Volume 92, Issue 9

Thursday, September 17, 1998

service with a smile


Find romance here on earth

Here on Earth

Alice Hoffman


$19.00/293 pages

Everyone can identify with loving someone who is bad for you. Whether it's a pre-pubescent crush on the class clown or a secret crawl-out-the-bedroom-window date, when it comes to mystery, the heart has historically ruled the head.

Alice Hoffman's seductive novel Here on Earth examines this fascination with the dark side of love and how it can render the concept of reality useless. March Murray is the central character, a married woman returning to her home town to bury a friend. Behind familial duty lies an agenda of the heart – Hollis, the love of her life she left years ago resides there and is waiting for her return. He is possessive, controlling, manipulative and unfaithful, yet resistable to March.

March's daughter Gwen, travelling with her for support and teenage guidance, gets lost in the shuffle as her mother denies her past and begins anew with Hollis. Soon Hollis' jealous nature consumes his love for March and as he slowly isolates her from the outside world, the question of whether March can actually survive this kind of reckless love is brought to the forefront.

The novel has a slow start, separately introducing the characters and their intertwined history. While at the time it may seem like slow going, it's necessary to understand the path each and every character's life has taken in order to make the strong emotional connection later on.

The sinful love story between March and Hollis is explosive at first, but eventually the relationship's effect on the secondary characters makes for a more interesting read than the torrid details of the two's lusty meetings. Gwen's character goes through the most interesting transformation, as she lets down her emotional brick wall for Hank, the boy who captures her heart and also happens to be her first cousin. The only disappointment of the novel is that Gwen's story is left abruptly to pick up on March and Hollis' downward spiral.

For the patient reader, Here On Earth unfolds as the romance we all dream of that's too heavenly for earth.

–Christina Vardanis

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Copyright The Gazette 1998