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Pinder, Leslie Hall.

Vancouver, Talonbooks, c1986. 183pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88922-240-1. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

Every family has its secrets: private matters not to be shared with neighbours, even with friends. Sometimes these secrets are not entirely as private as the family wishfully believes. There may be rumours, suspicions. . . .The keeping of dark secrets can become obsessive, and may be carried to destructive lengths, as with the Rathbones of Saskatchewan.

As so often happens, it takes a death in the family to force open doors long kept sealed. An unseemly squabble over the inheritance left by the dead patriarch to be shared equally among his children proves to be a cat among the pigeons, if not indeed a bone among savage curs. Through the perceptions of several of the family members and their connections, layer after layer of the carefully-woven web of secrecy is torn away, and the cause of dissent and damage to the family fabric is revealed in all its ugliness.

This powerful study of a family bound more by what the neighbours will think than by the truth of what is, is darkly absorbing as a study in abnormal psychology. The characters never see themselves or one another as clearly as the reader is allowed to see them, pitilessly exposed in their own self-deception. A demanding work, shaped by shifting time frames and consciousness. For senior and adult readers with a taste for Faulknerian domestic tragedy.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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