Double Delightby Rosamond Smith, Joyce Carol Oates
Terence Greene, a man seemingly without flaw or weakness, is a model husband, father, and citizen, with a picture-book home in the affluent New Jersey suburbs and an ideal position as director of a great philanthropic foundation. It is while performing his lawful duty as a member of a jury that he first sees exotically beautiful Ava-Rose Renfrew. She is testifying… See more details below
Terence Greene, a man seemingly without flaw or weakness, is a model husband, father, and citizen, with a picture-book home in the affluent New Jersey suburbs and an ideal position as director of a great philanthropic foundation. It is while performing his lawful duty as a member of a jury that he first sees exotically beautiful Ava-Rose Renfrew. She is testifying against a man accused of brutally assaulting her, and Terence tries to tell himself that he is stirred by her plight and not her person. Naturally, he manipulates his fellow jurors into delivering a verdict supporting her. But his pretense melts like snow in fire when after the trial he makes contact with Ava-Rose at the ramshackle house in the rundown neighborhood where she lives. Terence plunges into a searing sexual affair with Ava-Rose and enters the intimate circle of her raffish family, whose masks of warm friendliness and hearty vulgarity lift in unguarded moments to reveal monstrous manipulations of both his emotions and his bank account. None is more suspect than Ava-Rose herself, whose power over Terence grows as his passion becomes obsessive. Soon the little white lies he is telling at home, and the adultery he is committing with Ava-Rose, will become the very least of his sins.
Who could be more comfortable, more utterly natural in his setting, than Terence Green, the foundation director who commutes home each day to his wealthy, glamorous wife and two daughters (a son is at Dartmouth) in comfy Queenston, New Jersey? But all that changes when he's asked to judge the case of Ava-Rose Renfrew, who's accused one T.W. Binder of assaulting her. Suddenly infatuated with Ava-Rose, Terence finds himself rising to persuade his wavering fellow-jurors to convict Binder, then hanging around Ava-Rose's neighborhood and getting sucked into her raffish entourage. Soon he's swapping stories with her aunt Holly Mae Loomis and her Cap'n-Uncle Riff, flirting with her twin nieces Dara and Dana, and, inevitably, bedding sweet Ava-Rose herself. And soon he's paying for his enchantment not only with the foundation's money, pinched with unwonted dexterity, but with his peace of mindhis double life has stirred obscure memories of the early life his upscale marriage rescued him fromand perhaps his freedom as well, as he slips into murder with the same horrible facility and self-excusing glibness that marked his descent into romantic obsession. (There's even a murder he's not sure he's committed, a disconcerting complement to the general weightlessness of his other misdeeds.) Meantime, he's getting broad hints, in Smith's most overwrought style, that Ava-Rose is not what she seems; in fact, she may be nothing but an optical illusion.
It's a mark of both Smith's unsettling power and its limitations that Terence's wayward obsession is so much stronger and more believable than the shadowy woman who inspires it, or even than Terence himself.
- Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.54(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)
- Age Range:
- 1 Year
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