Glowstone

MacDonald Harris, Author William Morrow & Company $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07049-6
Though Claire Savarin-Decker has come of age during the halcyon days of the Belle Epoque, she is supremely indifferent to its many attractions. She owns one dress (a sensible black serge), lives in a shabby house overlooking the Paris abattoirs and spends most of her time at the research institute established by her late husband, testing the properties of ""glowstone,'' a hitherto unknown radioactive element he had discovered. Two equally volatile but human elements also lay claim to her attention: her young daughter, who has begun to explore the felicities of a more sensual life, and an attractive American millionaire, who is in love with Claire. They conspire to rid her of her accustomed sobriety with minor success. For just as love is blind, so, in this case, is Science, and Claire, its handmaiden, is permanently in thrall to its ultimately lethal allure. Glowstone, Harris's 13th novel, doesn't shine brightly enough to work a similar spell on the reader. His characters, more metaphor than flesh, are unvaryingly predictable, and Claire's slow, inexorable march towards death casts a prolonged, albeit necessary, pall over events, making the small triumphs of the living, although masterfully described, seem very small indeed. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
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