Salamanca's first book in 14 years is being released simultaneously with a new edition of the author's '60s bestseller, Lilith (one million copies in print and a 1964 film version starring Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg). This introspective, detail-rich and haunting literary novel will certainly please fans of his earlier work. Ben Oakshaw has sold out, abandoning a promising acting career to make millions as a D.C. advertising executive and keeping up a fa ade of worldly accomplishment. Then he and his wife, Priscilla, see a new play by Jill Davenport, an actress Ben worked with at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Jill's play terrifies Ben but charms Priscilla, who invites Jill and her companion, Tony, to spend two weeks in their beach house on Cape Hatteras. What Priscilla doesn't know is that the play reenacts Ben and Jill's affair in London before and after his marriage to Priscilla. In the ensuing two weeks at the beach, the couples share copious amounts of liquor, quote poetry and tell romantic ghost stories. Worried at first that Priscilla will discover his old indiscretion, Ben eventually resumes his affair with a disarmingly eager Jill. The deliberately paced narrative sacrifices surprise for emotional depth: Salamanca's characters realize their faults and squirmingly face their pasts as they act out their morality tale in a privileged world of sunshine and Chardonnay. Salamanca's writing prompts comparisons to William Styron, via its leisurely attention to setting and in the author's affection for his characters, no matter how dishonorably they behave. Relentless, dignified, lengthy and fully realized, ""haunted by the future as well as the past,"" Salamanca's new work recalls the triumphant realist novels from the '40s and '50s more than it does much current work: it deserves a broad welcome and serious attention. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000 Release date: 07/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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