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Charlotte Vale Allen.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1984.
313pp, cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 0-7710-8667-9.


Reviewed by Brenda Watson.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Charlotte Vale Allen has been writing professionally since 1976 and has produced over twenty books, among them Meet Me in Time,* Destinies** and Daddy's Girl.*** Born in Toronto, she now lives in Connecticut.

Pieces of Dreams follows the lives of two people in a parallel fashion until they meet and their stories unite later in the novel. We meet Caley Burrell as she is flying through a windshield in a disfiguring car crash. We meet artist Martin Maddox as his wife, no longer able to tolerate his alcoholism, is leaving him. She takes their two children back to England.

The story of Caley's initial recovery, her first operations to reconstruct her face, and her relationship with Ron, the man she had hoped to marry, is interesting and plausible. Martin successfully gives up alcohol and goes to England to reclaim his wife and sons. This too is successful, until a fatal airplane crash kills wife and sons.

Both Caley and Martin have lost their dreams and in their own ways become obsessive trying to prolong loveless, purposeless lives. Martin sees Caley one day, knows instinctively that she has suffered as he has, is deeply intelligent, and the friend he needs. He pursues her, breaks down her defenses and they live, we presume, happily ever after.

Both women in this novel, Caley and Martin's wife, are nurturers wanting only husband, home, and children to give shape to their lives. The central male is a daring, creative force who cannot cook a meal or use a washer or dryer. Not a very original representation of the sexes.

Caley's initial character development is realistic. Her experience is thought-provoking, and some passages reflect the enormity of the damage done to her sense of self. However, the resolution of her problems via Martin are not convincing. Martin's loss never seems to equal Caley's trauma, and his pursuit of her is contrived. The novel is interesting, moves quickly, and will appeal to romantics. It is disappointing that the conclusion could not have been more insightful. Recommended for libraries with large fiction budgets.

*Reviewed vol. XI/6 November 1983 p.246. **Reviewed vol. X/4 November 1982 p.229. ***Reviewedvol.X/3 1982p.l87.

Brenda Watson, Victoria, BC.
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