The Book of Marvels

Christopher Leland, Author Scribner Book Company $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19135-5
The milieu and characters of Leland's ( Mrs. Randall ) fictional Rhymers Creek, situated somewhere in the Baptist South, bear a strong resemblance to the world of Bobbie Ann Mason. But although Leland's characterizations are vivid and sympathetic, they do not equal Mason's in empathy, subtlety or sureness of touch. At times Leland condescends to his winning heroine, Lila Mae, piles on obvious detail (a superfluity of brand names, for example) and awkwardly ascribes all-too-writerly thoughts and epiphanies to his unsophisticated country woman. Abandoned by her uncommunicative husband, Lila Mae has become a nurse's aide in an old-age home. Otherwise she busies herself with her difficult mother and the financial support of a nefarious husband-and-wife team of TV evangelists. She also fends off the advances of her admirer Wellesley Coe, doing inner battle with his powerfully attractive green eyes and lanky frame. Truly Christian in her ability to open her heart to others, Lila Mae finally charms us, as do her aged, quirky patients, despite the unevenness of the novelist's technique. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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