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Books reviewed

by Eileen Alderton

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JAMES BOND LOVES ON

ENTIRELY different from the late Ian Fleming's original story "The Spy Who Loved Me" is Christopher Wood's "JAMES BOND, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME."

Published by Jonathan Cape ($9.95) it is a gutsy, punchy novel written under licence (from the owners of Ian Fleming's copyrights) from the script Christopher Wood and Richard IVlaibaum produced for the latest Bond film.

Ian Fleming made his indestructible Bond immortal - and here he is again, a woman chaser, charming, ironic, decadent, ruthless, with a constitution that stands up to any amount of bashing and bruising.

In this thriller British and Russians get together because a nuclear-powered submarine is missing. There is, of course, a beautiful girl called Anya with the rank of a major in the Russian army, deadly villains and as much action as anyone could take.

"HIDDEN MEANINGS" and

"ANOTHER KIND OF MAGIC" (Circus Books, $1.95) are two paperbacks by Charlotte Vale Allen, a Canadian-born author living in America who recently visited Australia and caused quite a stir.

She has written 13 novels in two years and writes for women about women but not

in the conventional romantic way.

These two novels are about the same set of characters and, I think, should have been welded into one very fat paperback. Read "Hidden Meanings" first or you may lose the point of the theme; that a family's life is often a repeating pattern. A mother who makes a disastrous marriage may watch her daughter make the same mistake.

Main character in "Hidden Meanings" is Wynne, a 38-year-old grandmother. She is divorced, hasn't seen her daughter, Tamara, since Tamara was a baby and she has never seen Tamara's child at all.

She is a writer and a recluse. She lives

in a cottage full of thriving potted plants and wears long, shapeless dresses, dark glasses and an old straw hat.

Her past - marriage when she was a teenager, a baby whose screaming drove her almost to the point of baby-bashing and curtailed her writing - and the giving up of ! the child in return for a divorce, has left her

neurotic, guilty, unable to communicate.

Until an early morning jogger goes by 1 her cottage every day, watches her in her

garden, wonders about her and manages to invade her cottage for a cup of tea.

He is a charming 42-year-old widower

who has had quite a few problems of his own but is very willing to help solve Wynne's.

Their affair, described with detail that makes "Peyton Place" appear quite pale and would have appeared shocking 10 years ago, results in her moving in with him and selling her cottage.

But guess who buys the cottage? Daughter Tamara, who believes her mother dead and cannot understand the strange affinity she feels between herself and this strange woman.

The sequel, "ANOTHER KIND OF MAGIC" is Tamara's story. Like her mother, she married far too young, found coping with an infant hard and was terrified of her husband, a violent drug addict.

And, like her mother. Tamara (while buying a plant) meets a lovely understand- ing man to help her solve her problems.

The four of them become very neigh- bourly - for a while. Then we get real action. Tamara's husband tries to attack her - and partly destroys the cottage. Wynne, who bangs away at the typwriter writing a novel on a diet of coffee, cigarettes and vodka, has an ulcer. Tamara discovers that Wynne is her mother and (Tamara has a nasty temper, too) tries to beat her motlier up.

Never a dull a moment and compulsive reading. I can see why Bette Davis, the author's greatest fan, likes these books. They seem to me perfect film material for BD in her prime.

There is realism in these novels, but I cannot believe that Wynne and daughter Tamara would both find such understanding men to nurse them through their problems.

Most men don't seem to enjoy nursing neurotic women because, they think, if anybody deserves a bit of nursing, it's them.

These two heroes put their women before themselves and their jobs (maybe that's because nobody in these novels is short of a cent or two!).

Charlotte Vale Allen's writing has a disturbing impact - but I do feel that the set-up is unrealistic. How would these two women have coped without two devoted men behind them? Have her numerous fans ever come to terms with the fact that nobody can solve their problems but

themselves?

But maybe I'm a cynic. The joggers I see (if sufficiently awake early mornings to see anything) look ridiculous, and whenever I've bought a potted plant the nurseryman looks every day of 80 plus!

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