Secret Lives

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9780525248347: Secret Lives

Book by Egremont, Max

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From Publishers Weekly:

In this subtle and compelling novel by British author Egremont ( The Ladies' Man ; Dear Shadows ), the legacy of a dead woman, beautiful Catherine Layburn, haunts three men--her aristocratic widower, Bob; her friend and confidant Philip Bligh; and above all, the shyly sensitive young art historian George Loftus, engaged to restore her portrait. The setting is northern England; specifically Cragham, in medieval times a castle stronghold and now a great house filled with priceless art objects. Assigned to work in a disused upstairs room, George discovers Catherine's intimately confessional journal. He reads it obsessively, entering her vanished world almost in a state of trance. Catherine's diary unmasks the apparently gentle Bob as a callous, brutal lover: her account of their wedding night forms the novel's centerpiece as a triumph of psychological revelation. She pities Philip, who is tormented by his passion for a shallow, vicious boy named Juan; recognizes the bond between Philip and her husband, who in wartime had shared "some incident in the desert"; and revels in a love affair of her own. Immersed in the mystery of Catherine, George finds himself baffled by the tantalizing border between actuality and fantasy.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

When George Loftus is invited to an estate in northern England to assess some paintings, he is drawn into the family's past. Among the paintings is a portrait of Catherine Layburn, the long-dead wife of his host. Loftus's fascination with Catherine intensifies after he discovers her diary, which describes a life far different from what he has been told. By questioning those who knew Catherine, Loftus uncovers multiple versions of her life but cannot bring himself to reveal his own discoveries. Finally he abandons his investigation of her marriage and possible love affairs to resume his own faltering ro mances. Because Catherine, even in death, seems more vital than the men who try to explain her, the ending is disappointing. Only those who adore descriptions of British upper-class life will be satisfied with the unresolved plot.
- Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Egremont, Max
Published by Dutton
ISBN 10: 052524834X ISBN 13: 9780525248347
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