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SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE by Ann Hood (Bantam: $6.95, paperback; 225 pp.).

June 21, 1987|Judy Bass

This somewhat formulaic novel from the Bantam New Fiction series traces the lives of three friends from the 1960s, when they were classmates at a New England college, to the mid-1980s. During their school days, Elizabeth, Claudia and Suzanne were typical flower children who unabashedly reveled in sex, emancipation from their parents' inflexible morality and idealism.

Later on, adult problems encumber them. Campus activist Elizabeth weds Howard Morgan, lives a "back to nature" existence with him and their youngsters on a farm, then develops cancer. Claudia also marries and resides near the Morgans, where one of her sons accidently drowns in 1974. She subsequently loses her sanity.

Hood portrays Suzanne most effectively of the three. The product of an insulated, conventional life of privilege, she impetuously has an affair with a poet at college and becomes pregnant. When he refuses to marry her, Suzanne raises their daughter alone while ac1751737718abhorrence of undisciplined behavior causes Suzanne to frantically shun every memory of her youthful recklessness.

The novel suffers from cliches, contrivances and an all-too-familiar plot. Nevertheless, Hood's depiction of Suzanne is memorably stirring and authentic, indicating a maturing literary talent which clearly bears watching.

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