For protagonist Ruth Frank, home ground is a small town in South Africa in the 1950s, in the thick of a feuding theatrical family, where her parents play at ""Happy Families'' with the same fervor and artifice they bring to their professional productions. Freed is at her best when evoking Sarah and Roger Frank's powerful self-delusion and Ruth's painful realization that her parents are ``deaf and blind'' to their alienation as a family, as Jews in British colonial society and as whites on a turbulent black continent. The author's ear for dialogue is perceptive, as is her depiction of the Franks' pathetic, uneducated, white lower-class neighbors and the desperate squalor and rage of their black servants. Ruth's coming of agefrom eight to 18serves as the framework for the novel, but the narrative is too insubstantial to sustain the 10-year time span. And the underdeveloped motivation for the vicious sibling rivalry between Ruth and her sisters is less than satisfying. (August 6)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1986 Release date: 08/01/1986 Genre: Fiction
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