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Asked to pen the posthumous biography of Shakespearean actress Joanna Eakins, reporter Elisabeth Rowan sets up house at Wakefield Hall, Joanna's estate in the Berkshires
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Wittily imitating classic gothic masterpieces, Stanfill (Shadows and Light, 1984) takes a Bront‰an heroine and puts her in a Tom Wolfe-ish New York setting--where ``identity is telegraphed by the names of corporations or one's position on the Forbes list.'' Narrated in the past tense typical of the genre, and in equally typical florid prose, the story concerns Elisabeth Rowan, who, like Jane Eyre, is alone in the world and must support herself. Her mother died when she was two, her father more recently, but--reflecting the changed times--Elisabeth is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and has a wealthy married lover. Here, she also gets an unexpected request--to write the authorized biography of the late Joanna Eakins, a famous actress whom Elisabeth had met only once-- that is the achievement of all she's wanted. She visits Wakefield Hall, the beautiful country home to which Joanna had devoted the last years of her life, after her acting career was ended by debilitating stage-fright. There, in the Berkshires, Joanna tried to re-create Thistleton, the grand country estate of her former English lover, Desmond Kerrith, complete with the maze that will play a significant role as Elisabeth unravels Joanna's mysterious life. Joanna's husband, rich and powerful David Cassel, and stepdaughter Rosalind, a successful bond-trader--both alarmed by the direction of Elisabeth's investigation--try to stop her, but our heroine is by now obsessed. Lover Jack is not keen either, but Larry, Joanna's architectural adviser, despite a reputation for arrogance, is encouraging. Treachery abounds, even at a Park Avenue dinner party, but Elisabeth, undeterred, travels to Paris, puzzles over enigmatic Shakespearean references in Joanna's letters, and finally, at Thistleton, will learn the stunning truth. A splendidly unabashed postmodern updating of the genre- -complete with the requisite foreshadowing, sinister characters, and extravagant settings. An intelligent great read. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne DuMaurier, Gustave Flaubert and William Shakespeare are among the literary luminaries invoked, quoted and alluded to in this chilly romantic thriller. But even these great names don't lend much depth to Stanfill's ( Shadows and Light ) shallow effort. Narrator Elisabeth Rowan, who writes about the arts for the Wall Street Journal , has long been obsessed with reknowned actress Joanna Eakins. Not long after Joanna's death, her husband, New York mover and shaker David Cassel, summons Elisabeth to Wakefield Hall, his grand country home, and informs her that she has been chosen to write the stage performer's biography. While collecting numerous windy, italic-strewn reminiscences from Joanna's friends and mentors, Elisabeth must also cope with the hostile maneuverings of Joanna's bond-trader stepdaughter and with her own longstanding romantic attachment to Jack Varady, a singularly unappealing (but very rich) married man. When at long last the novel's central puzzle is resolved, the answer seems more gratifying to the narrator than it will be to readers. The sheer volume of name-dropping is wearying: Elisabeth and her lover don't just sit at a good table at the Four Seasons; they gulp Montrachet "in the prestigious corner booth (the one usually reserved for Philip Johnson)." Those who make their way to the novel's end are most likely to feel a bit browbeaten by the author's know-it-all attitude and the relentless barrage of highfalutin people, places and things.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Villard, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0679412980
Book Description Villard, 1993. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0679412980
Book Description Villard, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110679412980