Compulsion

Man At Work

Maybe Baby

Pray Love, Remember

 
If the Slipper Fits
by Elaine Fox
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-051721-2
**
If the Slipper Fits falls back on that old tired-and-true, the Big Misunderstanding, to fuel its plot. It runs out of gas about page 150, and since itís a 384-page book, thatís a real problem for readers.

Ten years ago, Anne Sayer was one of the hired help in Connor Emoryís family home on Candlewick Island, Maine. Despite their social differences, Connor and Anne fell in love and spent an idyllic summer together. Then Anne broke it off, giving no reason, and the heartbroken Connor left for college and a career. Now Connor is back, retuning to Candlewick Island and the family mansion, where Anne is now the housekeeper.

Sheís nervous about seeing Connor, but soon after they do meet again, Anne decides to ensnare him once more. The problem is, sheís never explained why she dumped him all those years ago, and that explanation isnít forthcoming anytime soon in this story. Also, Connor has his overly-Italian Uncle Marcello and Marcelloís two daughters with him, to add flavor to the story, I guess. Connor plans to sell the house to Marcello, and when he does, all of the current staff will be replaced by Marcelloís own staff. That includes Anne.

The assorted eccentric staff members decide to prevent the sale by pretending the house is haunted, making it look like itís falling apart, and various other wacky schemes, none of which elicited more than a twitch of the lips, let alone a chuckle. Meanwhile, Anne and Connor engage in a wary dance of ďLetís Not Discuss the PastĒ which got on my nerves, fast. Every time (and there must be a half-dozen instances) Connor and Anne could clear things up with a brief conversation, one or the other decides not to talk about it. He doesnít want to hear it. No, she doesnít want to tell him. Me, I didnít want to read it.

Itís hard to think of a way to make characters appear more thickheaded than this. Not only does it reduce them to the level of self-righteous morons, it completely exasperates most readers, who are smart enough to want more substance to their stories than two people stubbornly refusing to face the truth. Connor and Anne, whose attraction is quite palpable, are wasted under these characterizations. By that fateful page 150, I no longer cared what happened to them.

The secondary characters arenít any more likable. Uncle Marcello, the happy Italian matchmaker, is one step this side of a cartoon. Connorís stepmother is a cardboard bitch, and Anneís grandmother, who is supposedly the reason Anne stayed on the island all these years, is domineering and selfish. None of them elicited more than a sense of distaste.

The possibilities were there, though. Anne and Connor, when they werenít Not Talking About Their Past, had some genuinely intimate moments, ones that illuminated the authorís potential. They seemed to have a nice friendship, which would have been a fine basis to build on.

In the end, If the Slipper Fits didnít work. Unless you have a mountain of patience for this type of plot, give this one a pass.

--Cathy Sova


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