Royal Poinciana

Thea Coy Douglas, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (428p) ISBN 978-1-55611-048-1
Bronx-born Nathaniel Dorn, long ago transplanted to San Francisco, is at age 62 a retired newspaperman with a leaky, unreliable heart as well as an unreliable son (a former dope addict) and a bisexual daughter, That's not all: his beloved wife has been dead for eight years and his lately beloved ""shiksa'' Gloria, age 66, wants a ``vacation'' from their quasi-marriage in order to work out her own multitude of head-problems and define her identity in the real world. Her therapist, who is also Nat's therapist, bears the unhappy surname Kaddish, which, almost too obviously, is the Hebrew prayer for the dead. (Even worse, Nat's dog is named Golem.) There seems no end to Nat's miseries: a troublesome prostate worsens alarmingly, requiring radical measures; his son lapses; and his daughter is raped and nearly killed. While some of the material here is handled capably, other scenes fail, especially those in which stricken Nat recalls the dead and speaks with them, not to mention his long-distance talks with an old Negro friend. Maudlin sentimentality makes it all seem all too familiar. On the way to the predictable happy ending, however, Grieg does manage to engage the reader's heartstrings. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
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