The Greek islands provide a gorgeous setting for this m nage- -trois intrigue, a first novel in which the love story develops obliquely, but is suffused with poetically described scenery. Mourning the death of her mother, Sylvia Harris, a young woman from Ohio, escapes to Athens to find a new life, wipe out painful memories of her clouded family past and flee the social chaos of America in the 1960s and 1970s. The Athenian world she enters, however, is no less tumultuous. Sylvia meets Aristedes Melas, a gifted painter, and Althea, his exquisitely beautiful but schizophrenic wife. Inexplicably drawn to this passionate, complicated couple, Sylvia becomes Ari's lover and Althea's confidante and protector, emotionally intimate with both husband and wife. She discovers that Althea is Ari's muse, the free spirit that he captures in his most renowned works, shown in Athens's National Gallery. Althea's uninhibited energy is at the heart of her beauty; it is what draws Ari, Sylvia and many other admirers, but this childlike intensity also provoked frequent psychotic breaks that edge her toward self-destruction. The Greek drama quickly descends into tragedy, but along the way, the wanderings of this troubled, sensuous threesome take readers to the marble lions of Delos and the harbor of Mykonos, where Sylvia and Ari make love for the first time; to the black-garbed old women of Kalavrita; and to the beach resorts of the Corinthian Gulf, where Althea dives nude into the night sea. At times graceful, at other times blunt-edged, the voice of this novel is somewhat uneven, but has all the right elements are in place to produce an engrossing story--a seductive setting, attractive characters and a dramatic love affair. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000 Release date: 05/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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