Cover image for That summer's trance
That summer's trance
Salamanca, J. R.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Welcome Rain, 2000.
Physical Description:
424 pages ; 24 cm
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In a summer idyll that is haunted by both the future and the past, Priscilla Oakshaw invites playwright Jill Davenport to spend the summer on North Carolina's Outer Banks, unaware that her husband and Jill share a troubling past.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Salamanca's first novel since the 1986 publication of Southern Light is an intriguing, carefully wrought psychological study about the ramifications of love--namely, the surprise of love's permanence as well as the shock of its impermanence. The central character is Ben Oakshaw, a former actor and now an advertising executive, who is married to Priscilla, whom he met in England when he was an acting student there. Priscilla, also an American, was employed at the U.S. embassy at the time. Ben and Priscilla now live in Washington, D.C., and one evening they attend a play written and performed by Jill, an old flame of Ben's back in England. Priscilla is aware that Ben and Jill were acquainted with each other as acting students, but she knows nothing of the true nature of their past relationship. Priscilla invites Jill and the man she keeps company with to spend the summer with Ben and Priscilla at their oceanfront beach house. The rekindled affair ultimately brings disaster. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Salamanca's first book in 14 years is being released simultaneously with a new edition of the author's '60s bestseller, Lilith (one million copies in print and a 1964 film version starring Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg). This introspective, detail-rich and haunting literary novel will certainly please fans of his earlier work. Ben Oakshaw has sold out, abandoning a promising acting career to make millions as a D.C. advertising executive and keeping up a faade of worldly accomplishment. Then he and his wife, Priscilla, see a new play by Jill Davenport, an actress Ben worked with at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Jill's play terrifies Ben but charms Priscilla, who invites Jill and her companion, Tony, to spend two weeks in their beach house on Cape Hatteras. What Priscilla doesn't know is that the play reenacts Ben and Jill's affair in London before and after his marriage to Priscilla. In the ensuing two weeks at the beach, the couples share copious amounts of liquor, quote poetry and tell romantic ghost stories. Worried at first that Priscilla will discover his old indiscretion, Ben eventually resumes his affair with a disarmingly eager Jill. The deliberately paced narrative sacrifices surprise for emotional depth: Salamanca's characters realize their faults and squirmingly face their pasts as they act out their morality tale in a privileged world of sunshine and Chardonnay. Salamanca's writing prompts comparisons to William Styron, via its leisurely attention to setting and in the author's affection for his characters, no matter how dishonorably they behave. Relentless, dignified, lengthy and fully realized, "haunted by the future as well as the past," Salamanca's new work recalls the triumphant realist novels from the '40s and '50s more than it does much current work: it deserves a broad welcome and serious attention. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Motivation, like plot, characterization, and dialog, is an important element in fiction. This ambitious novel is missing the "why" and ultimately disappoints despite its lyrical writing style. (It's Salamanca's first work in 14 years, after Embarkation.) Self-made Oakshaw has it all: successful career, enviable lifestyle, and adoring wife. Buried in the past is his sole regret that despite great talent, he never made it as a serious actor. Then former classmate/lover Jill shows up unexpectedly, starring in a play that she wrote. Charmed by the charismatic woman, Ben's wife invites Jill and her boyfriend to spend a week in one of their lush homes. What Ben's wife does not know is that the play was a vicious take on Ben's unhappy relationship with Jill. The bulk of the novel is weighed down with talky episodes that fail to get inside the protagonists; there's a lot of erudition shown off here but not much character development. Ben, an autodidactic who cannot resist the sound of his own voice, is flawed but not evil. Jill, on the other hand, is evil personified. Why the awful revenge exacted at the end? It's a puzzler. Recommended only for libraries interested in Salamanca's work. [This book is being released simultaneously with a reprint of Lilith, Salamanca's 1961 best seller and the basis of the hit film.DEd.]DJo Manning, Barry Univ., Miami Shores, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.