Picks and Pans Review: False Premises

updated 05/30/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/30/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Winthrop Knowlton

The narrator of this novel has a grandfather who invents a way to wire a town for electricity and for a while is very rich. The past and present are constantly, beautifully interwoven, and the hero gradually learns that life and the people he loves are not at all what he had believed. There are episodes that recount the narrator's parents' courtship—the mother's brother opposes the marriage because the groom works for an enchanting wheeler-dealer, who eventually proves to be something other than what he seems. The parents separate, and the young man goes to Harvard just after World War II, finds a good friend, loses him, and drinks too much. This is not a romance, but a richly romantic book, in the best sense of that overused word. The writing is unobtrusive, the dialogue convincing, and a kind of graceful atmosphere hovers over the pages. The author is director of the Center for Business and Government at the JFK School of Government at Harvard. (Random House, $12.95)

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