cover image Matecumbe


James A. Michener, . . Univ. Press of Florida, $21 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-8130-3152-1

According to an afterword by former Michener ghostwriter Joe Avenick, this short novel was rejected by Albert Erskine, Michener’s Random House editor, because it too closely resembled Sayonara . More likely, it was rejected because it’s not very good. The story, such as it is, involves two romances. Mary Ann Mays, an attractive, hopelessly impoverished, abandoned mother of four in Pottsville, Pa., finds a wallet and returns it to Paul Reynolds, a handsome, debonair and available investment banker who falls instantly in love with her. He marries her, moves the family into a fine home and provides love and financial security for life. The alternating story involves divorcée Melissa Tomlinson, an attractive Philadelphia librarian, who visits the Florida Keys and meets Joe Carlton, a ruggedly handsome, available cop who falls instantly in love with her, marries her and provides love and emotional security for life. The unconnected plots shift back and forth without complication, suspense, conflict or development. Dialogue is wooden, speechy and incredible. Both women remain dreamy and adolescentlike; both men are deeply sensitive, caring, responsive and generous. It’s like a formula romance with none of the formula’s pap pleasures. (Sept.)