Jennifer Reese
June 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Laments

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
George Hagen
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B-

Few first novels begin with as much flair and breezy self-confidence as Hagen’s saga of the Laments, a white South African family who drift around the world, setting up housekeeping in Rhodesia, the Persian Gulf, England, and New Jersey, but never quite finding their place. Alas, instead of gaining momentum, the promising tale of depressed, restless Howard, his spirited wife, Julia, and their three young sons steadily deflates after the first 50 sprightly pages. Hagen paints his central characters with such light, indifferent strokes that by the end of this meandering, maddening novel it’s hard to feel much for any of them.

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