Temples of Delight

Barbara Trapido, Author Grove/Atlantic $19.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1422-8
While set in the present, Trapido's ( Brother of the More Famous Jack ) third novel seems somehow caught in a timeless past when girls went to finishing school to learn ``how to emerge gracefully from a Rolls-Royce in a hat.'' It thus conveys in many ways the unchanging rhythms of the British upper middle class with its rigid caste structures. Shy, naive and afflicted with a stammer, Alice Pilling, the novel's main character, is the daughter of a real estate developer. Her dreary, ordered world is enlivened with the arrival at her school of Jem McCrail, sophisticated, mendacious and given to delightful malapropisms. The plot revolves around the pair's relationship over the ensuing years--a relationship leavened with more than a little sexual ambiguity. Though witty, lyrical, at times rollicking, Alice and Jem's story is ultimately tragic; yet even in tragedy there is a note of triumph. These are two women who refuse to be done in by life--or death--and who see defeats as opportunities for growth and transformation. Well-crafted, richly textured and full of surprises, the book is reminiscent of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds , and the themes of its novel within-a-novel consciously evoke the work of Giuseppe di Lampedusa. In addition, Trapido has created, in Jem, a truly memorable character. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Hardcover - 544 pages - 978-1-56054-385-5
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8021-3322-9
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-62040-871-1
Ebook - 358 pages - 978-1-62040-877-3
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