Picks and Pans Review: The Long Way Home

updated 03/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán

So dark and brooding that vultures or insects are hovering on just about every page, this first novel about an aristocratic South American family that has fallen on desperate times is strangely alluring. Its author is a 29-year-old Englishwoman who left London as a teenager to marry an exiled Venezuelan plantation owner and eventually went with him to his family land in the Andes. She left Venezuela, with a small daughter, to move back to England after her husband had become seriously depressed. The heroine of the novel follows a somewhat similar course. It doesn't really matter, though, how many of the tales in the book were gleaned from real life. They're vigorous, colorful little sagas that are almost optimistic in their respect for family love. "What hope is there for us all," asks Diego Beltrán, the English heroine's husband, "if we cannot see the shades of our sorrow in the eyes of friends?" The novel's point of view changes more often than is comfortable, and there's a family tree with 58 people that's daunting for a 183-page book. But it's a gracefully written work, absorbing and full of the power of human pain and pride. (Harper & Row, $12.95)

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