The six hearty old-fashioned tales in Kalpakian's ( Crescendo ; Fair Augusto ) current collection have the feel of the Saturday Evening Post. Most are set in small towns in Idaho and California. In the title story, meant to convey the idea that woman is ``a strange terrain'' to certain men, Africa is a white woman whose family goes in for geographical names (other members are Lisbon and Cathay). In ``The Battle of Manila,'' a woman named Manila Dance goes slowly mad as she shelters the memory of Ben, her son killed in the war; years later, she is consoled by Ben's former fiancee who also loses a son. ``Wine Women and Song'' shows how WW II liberated women, who found jobs and autonomy while men were at the front: Rose Bonney makes a hard choice when her overbearing husband Wesley comes home. ``Bones of Contention'' touchingly traces the ambivalence of young Jolee toward her mother's wildly irresponsible second husband. ``A Christmas Cordial'' is a quaint, Pickwickian story about a ``potty'' rich London woman who brews cordial every season for her friends. Readers disaffected with trendy, minimalist, new-age fiction may enjoy Kalpakian's frankly sentimental storytelling. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989 Release date: 10/01/1989 Genre:
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