cover image Love Falls

Love Falls

Esther Freud, . . Harper Perennial, $13.95 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-06-134961-4

Freud, who is Sigmund Freud’s great-granddaughter and Lucien Freud’s daughter, echoes some of the autobiographical material that enlivened her debut and biggest success, Hideous Kinky , in this sixth novel. Lara, 17, is already a veteran of a transformative journey to the Far East with her mother as she sets out on a very different trip, from London to Italy with her reclusive father, Lambert. Lara’s adolescent turns of mind, her changing relationship with “Lamb” and her utterly contradictory (and utterly human) desires to be both in the world and safe at home make for a surprising and convincing character study. But Freud’s engaging, insightful writing is undermined by antique plot devices: is Lamb also the father of Kip Willoughby, the cute boy at the adjacent villa? Was Kip conceived in an act of sexual revenge? Did the Willoughbys’ grandfather once renege on a promise to bring Lara’s grandparents out of WWII Germany? Still, the soap-opera drama doesn’t ruin the book: one wants to remain with Freud’s lively voice and to see what Lara makes of it all. (Dec.)