Friday, August 1, 2014

Wolf man in love

Alice Hoffman has been writing excellent novels for a number of years, but I think of the 1990s as her golden age. During that decade she wrote Turtle Moon (1992) and Practical Magic (1995), stories that were magical in a literary sense, as well as mystical in an other worldly sense. Add to that list Second Nature (1994), a novel I have only now read.

Stephen, a young man raised by wolves since he was 3, is considered dangerous and is under psychiatric care when Robin Moore simply walks out of the institution with him and takes him to the island home she shares with her teenage son Connor. Soon she has him looking and acting like an ordinary young man, though Stephen is always trying to figure out how he can escape the island to return to his wilderness and his family of wolves.

Robin is separated from her police-officer husband, who wants his wife back and certainly isn't pleased another man is living with her. It looks to him, as well as to Robin's friends, that she has a live-in lover. In time appearances become reality, and Stephen begins to have second thoughts about fleeing.

Robin reveals her secret about Stephen being the Wolf Man to only a couple of people, but when an island girl is savagely murdered, the secret quickly leaks out and Stephen becomes the prime suspect.

Second Nature succeeds as a love story and as a murder mystery. Mostly, however, it is a tale about ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation. Alice Hoffman tells this story with skill and grace.

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