Past 40, locked in the cold embrace of a dehydrated marriage, London-based radiologist Tom Lockhart, the central figure in this lightweight English import, sets eyes on Ginny, enchanting daughter of old friends and at 18 trembling on the edge of womanhoodand he's a goner. After much agonizing on Lockhart's part, Ginny becomes a woman, but it's none of his doing. For consolation there's always Carole, an obliging Cockney hairdresser, but Lockhart finds her unsuitable. Instead, the aptly named Felicity Cruxhall, a coronary surgeon, takes possession of him, body and soul. Lockhart's colleague Dr. Geoff Harcourt is not so lucky; his messy life will end pointlessly in an automobile accident. The title refers to an etching by a friend of Ginny's, and derives from the Platonic idea of illusion and reality, shadow and substance. But this fragile novel is too frothy, too bubbly with incessant chatter and larded with Cockney slang, to bear so heavy a burden. (January 20)
Tom Lockhart is a 40-year-old British radiologist suffering through an unhappy marriage and the mid-life blues. When he meets comely 18-year-old Ginny Ashford, the daughter of friends, his comic odyssey toward self-knowledge begins. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly predictable. Tom obsessively pursues Ginny, falls into bed with the archetypal bimbo with a heart of gold, and realizes that his quixotic picture of himself and Ginny is impractical. There are occasional flashes of insight and McClure has a fine comic style, but there is no real originality. A sub-plot involving a profligate/puritan male co-worker never makes good sense and the ending seems calculated and shallow. Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Library, Concord, N.C.