Picks and Pans Review: A Spanish Lover

updated 02/10/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/10/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Joanna Trollope

In Trollope's unabashedly middlebrow sagas, set among the bourgeoisie in picturesque English villages, nothing is quite so picturesque as it seems. Like many of the distinguished Victorian novelists—her relative Anthony among them—Trollope concerns herself with the contrast between the surface serenity of her characters and the passions raging beneath. This novel centers on thirty-something twins Lizzie and Frances Shore. Lizzie, the more forceful, has done every proper thing: Married with four children, she runs a successful gallery and lives in one of the town's showplaces. Frances, proprietor of a thriving travel agency in London, in-habits a small, unkempt flat and has had a string of unkempt romances. When Frances begins an affair with a married man she meets on a trip to Seville, everything changes—for her and, it turns out, for Lizzie, her husband and their parents. A Spanish Lover is a mild enterprise to begin with but picks up force and significance. Trollope is at her best analyzing the complex strands of DNA that bind families—and sometimes threaten to strangle them. (Random House, $22)

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