Well-written. Especially good character development.
Returning to the Hawaiian setting of her highly praised first novel, My Old Sweetheart, Moore evokes the fashionably decadent milieu of the idle rich in 1980s Manhattan. Mamie Clarke grows up on the island of Kauai, desperately seeking the attention of her remote, "benignly distracted" mother. When she is 12, Mamie is sexually fondled by a trusted servant, a traumatizing event for which she feels she is to blame, and which leads her to despise her body and her femininity. Socially inexperienced and naive, at 21 she goes to New York to live with her scatty Aunt Alysse, one of a group of free-spending, boozy and much-married women, all of them out to snare yet another man. Mamie is able to resist Alysse's meretricious values, but her younger sister Claire eagerly enters into Alysse's sophisticated circle, where she falls prey to the drug culture. While Moore's spare but lyrical prose is compelling, especially when she describes the rhythms of island life her psychological portrait of Mamie eventually takes on an overwrought and rather hysterical tinge. Still, this is an engrossing novel, profoundly disturbing in its message of feminine guilt, yet satisfying in Mamie's eventual recognition of how to "purify" her soul.