cover image The Koran: 2parallel Text Edition

The Koran: 2parallel Text Edition

Anonymous, N. J. Dawood. Viking Books, $29.95 (640pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80088-9

Within British writer Feinstein's ( The Border ) 10th novel several intriguing stories struggle to emerge--but none quite succeeds. Fifteen years into an essentially dead marriage, Nell Bolton learns that husband Brian, whose occupation she neither knows nor seems to care about, has been sent to jail for fraud. Nell snaps up teenage daughter Becky, leaves the spirit-sapping suburbs and moves to a London basement flat to start life anew. She accepts a subsistence job at a Feminist Arts workshop before finding excitement with TV documentary producer Theo Walloon, who hires her, whisks her off for an adventure in Tuscany and becomes her lover. But Nell, burdened with whiny Becky and stifled because ``women are always oppressed by their need to please,'' is ``congenitally anxious'' and cannot find fulfillment until she writes a poem--nor peace until she sleuths out the drug dealer who framed Brian on the way to the novel's abrupt and frustrating end. Feinstein's smug men and self-absorbed women never fully engage us, and her prose, despite deft descriptions of party scenes, bogs down under the author's compulsion to plumb the motivation for almost every line of dialogue. (Mar.)