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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a strong American debut, British author King ( Written on a Stranger's Map ) explores themes of personal discovery and professional disenchantment. William Bender, a British consultant for such international financial organizations as the World Bank and the IMF, is prompted by news of his father's death to reassess his own life. On the South Pacific island of Ruatua, where he's trying to resolve problems caused by previous international meddling, Bender contemplates his childhood and his relationships with his wife, his lovers, in particular the Chinese woman Han and his Ruatuan lover Emo, and his colleagues. He realizes that he is world-weary, no longer emotionally suited to pull off high-level financial deals that require him to ignore the various economic abuses, shady doings and outright crime they often entail. The heart of the novel, however, is his struggle to find his identity. Both he and other characters are not quite what they seem and some have more than one name--Bender, for example, is known as Will, William and Bill. After a somewhat slow beginning, King delivers an elegaic and intelligent study of Bender's growing self-awareness, his increasing willingness to face the truth--and lies--of his past and his simultaneous disillusionment. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In an elegant, detached style, British author King dispassionately scrutinizes the midlife crisis of international aid consultant William Bender. A sophisticated, highly intelligent man, Bender has become world-weary and cynical from constant encounters with the petty corruption of politicians in developing countries. The death of his milkman father is the impetus for Bender to examine both the validity of his work and the shambles of his personal life. His story unfolds in flashbacks from the vantage point of his idyllic existence on the small island of Ruatua: his estrangement from Mireille, his genteel French wife; the erotic hold of Han, his totally unscrupulous Chinese mistress who leads him into decadence; and his ambivalent feelings about his father's limited ambition and seemingly narrow life. Although Bender's British reserve keeps him somewhat distant from the reader, this is an oddly compelling novel that is recommended for larger fiction collections.-- Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671754587
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/1992
  • Pages: 256

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