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Sunday, April 15, 2007

The title conveys some of the important aspects of love that the author explores in the book: its complicated nature, its tendency to be inconvenient, and even its ability to inflict pain. Yet the love relationships that develop between Luna, her orphaned new charge Sam, the would-be theologian Paul, and Paul’s mother Mrs. Cowan are satisfyingly healthy and realistic. The failed connections between Luna, her father, and her jilted fiance Steven provide an interesting contrast. Compared to Steven (Ph.D.) and Major Stone, deaf Paul and abused Sam are homely and pathetic, even losers. But Luna discerns their depth of character and empathy and chooses a future with Paul and Sam despite its disadvantages. Betts’ writing is candid and attentive, sometimes a little too confidential.

It is fun to hate Steven Grier. He is a perfect Adonis, plus a lettered doctor of philosophy (botany). He’s an interesting bundle of contradictions. Steven really does appear to love Luna, even though she seems difficult to love. He’s the one who really wants to get married, but often acts self-centered and can be dismissive of Luna’s thoughts and feelings. Steven harshly chides Luna about being stingy, but he sponges off her meager earnings for months – even concealing a large check his new employer sends him for moving expenses.

The weird ghost visitations by Tamsen Donner (doomed member of Donner party) and unreserved sex scenes were annoying, distasteful, and to my mind, completely irrelevant to the story. I was sorry that the author felt her plot needed such frivolous embellishments.

Title:The Sharp Teeth of Love
Author:Doris Betts
Date published:1997
Number of pages:336


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