Books: Polite Forms of Aggression A SOUTHERN FAMILY

by Gail Godwin; Morrow; 540 pages; $18.95

Clare Campion, 42, a successful novelist living in New York City, pays one of her infrequent visits home to Mountain City in western North Carolina. There she finds her mother Lily, her stepfather Ralph Quick and her two half brothers, Theo, 28, and Rafe, 26, all of them behaving incorrigibly in character and thereby reminding Clare of why she had left them and the South in the first place. Her only respite from what she calls "the ongoing theatricals of the family" is the companionship of her childhood friend Julia Richardson. Years earlier, Julia gave up a promising career as a...

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