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Valerie Martin
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3.06  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Claude is a middle-aged man unwillingly attached to Mona, a woman obsessed with marriage and respectability. Then one night he meets the exotic Alexandra - regal, tall and spare, skittish and powerfully independent. When her rich friend Diana falls pregnant, Alexandra and Claude agree to accompany her to Diana's house hidden deep in the bayou, where they will assist her wi ...more
Published February 1st 1979 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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3.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the characters fascinating and compelling. Martin somehow evokes New Orleans, a city and culture foreign to me, without elaborate description; perhaps she does that through the characters, who are also exotic compared to the Midwestern ideal in which I was reared. The ending was inconclusive, but I liked that too. In my imagination, Claude (the story is told from his point-of-view, and I think he is a pretty reliable narrator), Alex, and Diana are getting on with their lives somewhere, n ...more
dead letter office
Not as good as Property, but it gets better as it goes. She reminds me a little of John Fowles, and a little of Iris Murdoch. Alexandra has a bit of The Sea, The Sea in it, and a bit of The Collector. Dark and dreamy, and dripping with a kind of creepy, obsessive lust.
Trisha Griffiths
I've discovered a fabulous new writer.
Christie Maloyed
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book jacket blurb makes this out to be more "shocking" and "chilling" than it is. Four stars for the writing and character study, the plot was just OK.
Tricia Villanueva
The synopsis promised a haunting suspense story about secrets and obsession, but for me it did not deliver that much (or maybe I just expected something more intense). About 90% of the book made it clear that its subject was desire but its ending shifted to connote the feeling of love. I don't think love as powerful as the one being described by Claude at the end was foregrounded properly. Interestingly, the word "love" was never mentioned in the novel. (If it had been, I completely missed it.) ...more
Octavia Cade
Well-written, with some lovely passages, yet I couldn't warm to it. The characters are nearly all mildly unpleasant, but I think my real disconnect from the book lies with the main character.

I don't have to like a protagonist but I need to find something interesting about them, and that need is even more crucial when a story's written in the first person, as this is. Claude, our hero, is rather flabbily self-indulgent and absolutely devoid of humour. I simply didn't care what happened to him, an
Nov 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book started out strong and went straight downhill from there. I couldn't believe the unbelievability (actual word?) of it. The mysterious island isn't all that mysterious. The exotic Diana is just a spoiled brat and the story of a possible murder less than riveting. This seems to be an aging male's fantasy of having a gorgeous woman addicted to his sexual prowess. Written by a woman, no less. Yuck
Aug 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed in this book, especially considering Ms. Martin's extensive writing career. The characters were so unlikable that I could not bring myself to care about any of them. The plot was unbelievable and there were multiple developments that suddenly popped up only to go nowhere.

I cannot recommend this book.
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I heard Valerie Martin say that she thought this book (her 2nd novel) was wickedly funny, though no one else seemed to think so. If I'd known that at the time I read it, I may have viewed it differently.
Tara Truax
A fast, easy, marginal read. The main issues I had: plot was a little unbelievable and it was hard to tell what time period the story was supposed to have taken place in, which was annoying rather than intriguing. Read a little like a cheap grocery-store mystery.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
review to follow xxx
Picked this up on the bargain shelf at my local bookstore. . . interesting read. Well-written. A nice surprise!
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Subtle story of sexual obsession.
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, but not great. A far cry from the mastery of Martin's more mature works.
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Valerie Martin is the author of nine novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and Property, three collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, titled Salvation. She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain’s Orange Prize (for Property).
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