The Maze at Windermere

Viking. Jan. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780735221925. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780735221949. F
OrangeReviewStarIn 2011, washed-up tennis pro Sandy Alison lands at the historic resort town of Newport, RI, and charms his way into romances with area heiresses and hangers-on. In 1896, society gadabout Franklin Drexel sets his sights on widowed Mrs. Newcomb and her considerable fortune. In 1863, future writer Henry James is 20 and a newcomer to Newport's business of flirtation. The spring of 1778 finds a British royal officer smitten with a merchant's daughter in the midst of a powder keg of revolution. In 1692, an orphaned Quaker teenager struggles to fend for her household while remaining true to her own heart. Cycling through these characters' lives, along with the common streets and landmarks of Newport, are themes of inequality, manipulation, and personal integrity. The narratives converge at the end as each tale speeds to its conclusion. All are equally compelling.
VERDICT Award-winning novelist Smith (The Divine Comedy of John Venner) moves nimbly among his tales' various settings and diverse characters within the confines of Newport. Historical fiction buffs as well as those with romantic leanings should enjoy this intricate tale. [See Prepub Alert, 8/2/17.]

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