Picks and Pans Review: The Girls

updated 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Bowen

Here is a stylish British novel by a skillful old pro. The main characters, Janet and Susan, have become part of the village where they have a shop. They sell homemade crafts, cheese, honey. They are lovers, but no one seems to care. Then Susan, the younger of the two, decides she needs to go away and discover herself. She takes a tour to Crete. Janet goes alone to an annual fair, meets a nice young man who makes musical instruments and for the first time has sex with a male. Of course, she becomes pregnant. Although she's 37, she decides to have the baby, and Susan is thrilled. Bowen, author of nine plays and seven novels, is an artful storyteller who makes his characters likable. The shocking things they do seem plausible, even inevitable. There is a bizarre death and other high melodrama, but Bowen's absolute control makes even the incredible serve his purpose. (Atlantic Monthly, $15.95)

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