Books: Family of Ciphers

RED PLUSH (615 pp.)—Guy McCrone—Farrar, Straus ($3.50).

This languid family novel will presumably be read in December by hundreds of thousands of Americans: it has been graced by the Book-of-the-Month Club stamp of approval. Otherwise, this long, tedious triple-decker would probably be doomed to wither on the vines of suburban circulating libraries.

Set in the Victorian Age, Red Plush is one of those placid novels that wallow in family trivia, delight in minor, certain-to-be-resolved family crises and snicker at family eccentrics. The family is accorded an existence of its own, dominating and dwarfing the individual characters; it becomes a sort of metaphysical entity,...

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