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Sister Salt's struggle to gain independence tii the colonists' world by doing laundry at a work camp. The bulk of the novel foUows headstrong Indigo as she becomes the traveling companion and surrogate daughter of "overly" educated Hattie, who has entered into a companionable yet passionless marriage to botanist and dreamer Edward Palmer. Hattie promises to help Indigo find her sister after Edward's research trip to Europe. Their journey provides ample opportunities for the newlyweds and Indigo to learn about one another. In this version of the Grand Tour, the Native American "discovers" a strange and exotic Europe. Throughout , Silko provides fragments of forgotten histories of conquest, retigion and science: for example, Hattie studies female leaders in ancient Gnostic scriptures. Gardens rendered in highly specific detail are the common ground for characters during the trip and provide an organizing theme among different cultures. Silko's bountiful descriptions wUl engage many readers, but other stylistic choices, such as a virtual lack of dialogue, sometimes give an effect that is distanced and didactic rather than enchanting or urgent. Layering and repetition of theme and imagery create texture in this book, but admirers of more experimental narratives wUl find that it lacks the taut interplay of theme and action and the fascinating formal innovations that made Silko's earUer novel Ceremony so dazzling. An entertaining read by any standard, only in comparison to the artistry and passion ofSilko's earUer mUestones does Gardens in the Dunes fall a bit short. (AC) Marrying the Mistress: A Novel by Joanna Trollope Viking, 2000, 293 pp., $23.95 Joanna Trollope's ninth novel concerns what happens when a sixtytwo -year-old British judge and a thirty-one-year-old woman decide to get married. They have carried on their affair in secret for several years and now finaUy decide to take the plunge. This couple is thoroughly in love; she's never cUcked with a man like she does with him, and he has been locked in an unhappy marriage for over thirty years. Merrion, the "mistress," is frankly in search of a lost father, but this doesn't diminish her love for Guy or the fact that she is a very substantial young woman with a career in law. Guy's wife, Laura, is the vUlain in the story. She is a cloying, dependent, helpless woman who will do anything to get her way, including manipulating her barrister son, Simon, into serving as her representative in the divorce proceedings . Simon, the firstborn, now himseU a father of two, has something of his mother in him. Heboth feels sorry for himself and assumes that he's a good person surrounded by people who are shirking theti duty. Also, he is a sucker to his mother, willing to do whatever she demands, which understandably drives his own wife crazy. The plot is thus clear and dramatic, although it wears thin when the spumed, passive-aggressive wife and sUghtly sanctimonious son appear to be the only obstacles to happiness. Fortunately the plot does develop beyond this, as Guy and Merrion's announcement reverberates through theti immediate famUies. The wound The Missouri Review · 185 ofthe upcoming divorce opens everyone to a new scrutiny of their relationships and themselves. Some of the best scenes are from the point of view of Simon's adolescent children. The boy has just found his first girlfriend , while the younger daughter is a sensitive, slightly haunted observer of all of this drama. Marrying the Mistress is a bestseller in Britain. Like many popular domestic novels, it is a little highhanded in its omniscient method, with certain characters being in the right and others quite obviously in need of correction. Many of its chapters are dramatic encounters in which the reader can easily identify with the white hat. A book like this makes me yearn just a little for fiction in which the right choice isn't always so obvious, or what seems like the right choice can go seriously awry— a world closer to the one we live in. Trollope's observations are intelligent , if not surprising, and she has a good sense of the interconnectedness ofpeople. She knows her psychology, and...


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pp. 185-186
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