AN EMPTY ROOM

Talitha Stevenson, Author . Carroll & Graf $23 (181p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1279-3

Stevenson sets up an evocative character study in her effective but occasionally turgid first novel, as she examines the plight of a beautiful, rudderless 19-year-old London girl who uses an affair with an older man to escape a destructive relationship with her boyfriend and make her leap into the adult world. On the surface, the gorgeous Emily has a lifestyle that offers more than enough hedonistic pleasures, including plenty of sex, drugs and alcohol and a freewheeling, intense relationship with her equally handsome but rather aloof beau, Tom. But Tom's charm gives way to some brutal controlling tendencies once the parties begin to wind down, and to find her emotional match Emily turns to Tom's older, married cousin Simon, a successful journalist. The plot follows a familiar emotional arc as Simon and Emily become intimate and Emily wonders whether Simon will leave his lovely but damaged wife, Rachel. Tom hovers menacingly in the background after Emily breaks up with him, and Stevenson lapses into melodrama when Emily tries to deal with Tom's backstabbing, Simon's failure to follow his heart and Rachel's intransigence. The insular nature of the narrative undermines Stevenson's fine work in developing Emily, but the quality character writing bodes well for Stevenson's future. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-0-15-603281-0
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