Harmony CL

Susan Taylor Chlehak, Author, Susan Taylor Chehak, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-89919-941-2
This haunting novel, set in the fictive Midwestern town of Harmony, is infused with a dark, edgy presence that occasionally suggests soap opera. Clodine Wheeler is the bemused narrator who strings together brilliant beads of descriptive phrases as she sorts through her memories. She first saw fey child-mother Lilly Duke through the glassy, shifting wall of a waterfall shortly after Lilly came to live in a lakeside shack owned by the father of her baby, a convicted murderer. These pages are rife with painful, gothic blows: Clo's husband, Galen, witnessed his father kill his mother in a fight, then hang himself with one of her ``lovely, flowered silk scarves''; Galen obsessively loves and systematically abuses Clo, who seeks her own destruction by wooing Lilly with such trinkets as a rusted bike and a mongrel dog. Chehak ( Story of Annie D. ) skillfully depicts small-town meanness and ironic generosity. Although set in the present, her mesmerizing tale has classic resonances. When Galen and Lilly inevitably connect, biblical retribution hangs heavy over all. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
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