For Mills & Boon lovers only
Dancing at the Harvest Moon by K C McKinnon, Doubleday, $170 Baby-boomer girl Maggie meets boy Robert by a lake: first love. Maggie leaves nature-loving Robert and marries city-slicker lawyer Joe and has two kids. Kids grow up, Joe runs off for younger woman and Maggie (now in her 40s and divorced) takes a sabbatical from teaching English literature at an American college and goes off in search of first love, which apparently never died.
Unfortunately, Robert has snuffed it leaving behind a strikingly similar son Eliot - and memories including Maggie's old love letters to Robert, now in Eliot's hands, providing an amazing insight into Maggie's mundane preferences 25 years ago.
Maggie cannot take her eyes off Eliot but does Maggie love the memory of Robert or Eliot himself? It would be an interesting question if the book rose above bland narrative, reminiscent of a women's magazine serialisation. One can accept that Maggie, going through a mid-life crisis and unable to believe someone half her age can fall for her, is confused.
But why on Earth does Eliot fall for Maggie? This is never really clear.
In fewer than 200 pages, aside from twittering birds and lakeside nature scenes that start most chapters, and banal college-girl dialogue, there is little else in the way of padding to shed light on why these characters behave the way they do.
Brooding Eliot is a cardboard cut-out. The other characters barely come alive, including Maggie's thrice-married childhood friend, Claire, who is conveniently around to fill Maggie in on the previous 25 years, rather than allowing Maggie to find out for herself.
Dancing at the Harvest Moon is soon to be made into a movie, it says at the front of the book.
Aha. It reads like the book of the film and there is no other reason for people except lovers of Mills & Boon to buy it, despite the publishers' hype that this is a book for 'those who loved The Bridges Of Madison County '.