The Love Talker, by Elizabeth Peters

>> Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Love Talker, by Elizabeth Peters is one of the few books by this author that hasn't really stuck in my mind from the first time I read it.

Laurie has finally returned to Idlewood, the beloved family home deep in the Maryland woods where she found comfort and peace as a lonely young girl. But things are very different now. There is no peace in Idlewood. The haunting sound of a distant piping breaks the stillness of a snowy winter's evening. Seemingly random events have begun to take on a sinister shape. And dotty old Great Aunt Lizzie is convinced that there are fairies about -- and she has photographs to prove it. For Laurie, one fact is becoming disturbingly clear: there is definitely something out there in the woods -- something fiendishly, cunningly, malevolently human -- and the lives of her aging loved ones, as well as Laurie's own, are suddenly at serious risk.
The Love Talker is not one of Peters' best efforts, but it was very entertaining and had most of the things that I love about her books. My grade would be a B.

Laurie is a wonderful heroine, like all of Peters'. She's strong and sensible and delights in not behaving according to stereotypes of how a heroine should act. The supporting cast is great, too, lovingly and subtly drawn most of them, with the more one-dimensional characters (like Hermann, or Rachel and Mary Ella's father) providing some hilarious comic relief.

The book reads a bit like a historical, because it's very much stuck in the time when it was written, 25 years ago, so many things are quite dated. It's funny, because Peters' attitudes themselves are not at all old-fashioned (even then, she was very progressive about things like a woman's role, for instance), so instead of being irritated, I could enjoy the very strong, modern heroine, and have fun with the little details in which the book showed its age. I especially enjoyed Doug's defense of the science-fiction and fantasy books he liked to read... he sounded a lot like we romance readers sound today!

The plot was interesting, with a touch of paranormal, but ultimately, the resolution lacked a certain oomph. Still, it was a good way to spend an afternoon.


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