We're back in the town of McDade, Tex., for another installment in the family saga that Bonner began with Lily, but that turf may be drying up. This serpentine tale begins breathlessly, when 12-year-old Sunny Deloney's mama walks out on her husband, Dade (she later accepts his blandishments and returns), and goes to stay with Aunt Prudie. There Sunny reconnects with her 14-year-old first cousin Gil Dailey, and they seal their fate with a forbidden kiss. The balance of the novel covers the next 13 years, from 1913 to 1926, with sexually charged encounters between the cousins dotting some otherwise uninspired prose. Sunny marries an alcoholic, abusive husband; Gil goes off to war in Europe. Each tries to forget the other in the arms of various people they don't love; finally, they run off together. Although most of the narrative shifts between Sunny's and Gil's third-person perspectives, the final chapters are Sunny's first-person account of events. This shuttling back and forth results in a sacrifice of the careful structuring of previous novels in the series, and readers may also miss the colorful Texas dialect of the earlier books, which seems muted here. Bonner also skimps on establishing a sense of place, evoked in the first chapter but scanted later. The narrative often stretches readers' credulity as the lovers sacrifice family, income and health to continue their incestuous love. Sentimental fans will probably stay glued, however, through a sufficiency of melodramatic plot twists that accentuate the pathos of the doomed love affair. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.