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In her new novella, the prolific Oates paints a riveting picture of a time when drugs were viewed with a more tolerant eye and sexual promiscuity was the order of the day. The story revolves around a group of college girls in the 1970s and their obsessive preoccupation with charismatic anti-establishment English professor Andre Harrow and his artist wife, Dorcas. The two stand out in their small New England college town, and they revel in their difference, which draws Andre's female students to him like bees to honey. A talented and infatuated junior, Gillian is relegated to the shadows until Andre picks her out as one of his "special" girls. What follows is a disturbing look at the power of obsession and the abuse of trust. The story, though implausible in today's world, is quite believable in its 1970s setting. It's a quick read at 128 pages but suspenseful and satisfying to the end, with Oates once again displaying her amazing flair for complex and slightly bizarre characters. Recommended for all fiction collections. Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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