Picks and Pans Review: Home Front

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Patti Davis with Maureen Strange Foster

It's hardly an idle question to wonder how much of this first novel is autobiographical and how much is fictional. Davis, who has on occasion worked as an actress on the West Coast, is the independent-minded daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Her heroine is Beth Canfield, whose father becomes governor of California and then President of the U.S. Her fictional father is a genial Dagwood Bumstead and her mother is unspeakably, if unknowingly, cruel. Beth goes to a horsey finishing school in Arizona and falls in love with her roommate's boyfriend, who joins the Marines and winds up in Vietnam. Much to the embarrassment of her conservative parents, Beth protests against the Vietnam War. Her boyfriend returns in an emotional mess. This is all familiar, but there are other fundamental problems with Home Front as well. Perhaps because the book has two authors (California novelist Maureen Strange Foster and Davis), the narrative lacks a consistent voice. The reader never quite knows how to feel about the events that are described. Scenes are almost always predictable, the plot and resolutions sentimental and fuzzy. Davis' family connection is the only reason to open this book, but even the inside hints about the Reagans do not compensate for the absence in this novel of humor and insight. (Crown, $15.95)

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