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Going Topless    by Megan McAndrew order for
Going Topless
by Megan McAndrew
Order:  USA  Can
Downtown Press, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

When Ross Wright dies, his bickering family (daughters, step-daughters and a third wife) gather together for a memorial at his dilapidated house on the Mediterranean island of Santerre - which is all that's left of his fortune. Constance, the narrator, gains respect and the best bedroom when she arrives for the very first time with a boyfriend. Unfortunately, Jim soon afterwards loses his heart to Constance's French step-mother Odette, who herself has come with a lover.

As usual, Constance's flamboyant sister Isabelle turns every man's head. She comes breezing in minus her famous Czech dissident husband. Things take a tricky turn when both Isabelle and Constance are attracted to the sexy writer next door. Stepsisters Lucy and Jane (who is gay) add their own share of complications to the scenario. Local characters add eccentricity and color, enlivening the narrative. As secrets come tumbling out, Ross's family is forced to re-evaluate their relationships and rivalries, not only with each other but also with their husbands, lovers and the deceased.

Combining acute emotional insight with a wicked sense of humor, Megan McAndrew has fashioned a story that's rich in characterization and local color. She portrays rivalry between sisters, bedroom games, indigenous cuisine, and behavioral problems, with a breezy sang-froid that's captivating. With a diverse cast of people from various continents and walks of life, McAndrew captures love in all its glory, as her characters struggle to find the truth and their individual places in life.

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