cover image Whispers


Belva Plain. Delacorte Press, $22.95 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29928-2

Giving a contemporary twist to this bittersweet tale, accomplished storyteller Plain ( Tapestry ) revisits familiar terrain: the intricate landscape of an extended family. The Fergusons seem to have it all. Lynn runs their comfortable home in an affluent Connecticut suburb, her husband Robert is headed for a major position with his corporation and their eldest daughter Emily has been accepted at Yale. But it's a facade. Robert's inexplicable rages lead him to physically abuse Lynn; at times he is cruelly dictatorial with Emily and her troubled younger sister Annie. Passive and confused Lynn convinces herself that Robert is just a particularly demanding husband and father. But counsel from her sharply perceptive and independent friend Josie, combined with the shrewd advice of a calculating womanizer and an afternoon with Robert's aunt force her to face her family's problems. By avoiding melodrama and sentiment, by getting under the skin of each of her diverse characters, Plain delivers a story of considerable impact. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (May)