Early on in this extremely studied, overwrought novel by an acclaimed British science fiction writer ( The Helliconia Trilogy ), a character, identified as a ``Medieval History Fellow, with whom conversation was no bore,'' sighs, ``Literacy, the curse of the thinking classes.'' And it is the thinking class--analyst Clement Winter and his wife, Sheila, a bestselling fantasy author--and their literary pretensions that shoot this ``serious'' novel in the foot. The couple lives on a well-appointed estate in Oxford. Dr. Winter is obsessed with transforming his dead brother Joseph's papers into a biography. Joseph spent many years in the Far East, first as part of Britain's war in Burma in WW II, then by choice with various women. He also committed most of his thoughts to paper, and we get far too much diaristic minutiae and records of his failed at tempts to make sense of his own life. Worse still, his vapid musings inspire his brother Clement into the deepest realms of self-revelation. Sheila, alarmingly self-satisfied, seems to exist here only to sharpen her husband's angst. These characters, all highly mannered and impossible to like, could be wickedly funny were the reader not asked to admire them extravagantly. (Apr . )
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989 Release date: 09/01/1989 Genre: Fiction
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