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FICTION : SOMETIMES PARADISE by Judith Green (Knopf: $17.95; 271 pp.).

July 26, 1987

If you've always wanted to know what "summer reading" is, here's a painless opportunity to learn. "Sometimes Paradise" is an effortless journey in the company of an all-too-familiar, all-too-beautiful, all-too-good heroine who overcomes a tawdry past--no fault of hers, mind you--to reach her improbable destiny as a powerful figure for good.

These otherwise admirable virtues may actually contribute to the crashing dullness of Loretta Worship, adopted and abused daughter of a brutal traveling minister, who uses her in his healing services until she can no longer stand the farce--or the abuse. With a few hundred dollars taken from her adopted mother's savings, this uneducated 18-year-old buys a bus ticket north and in no time is an accomplished physical therapist. The totally unexpected recovery of a 63-year-old multimillionaire who responds to her blandishments produces the expected results: They get married. She learns how to "live rich"--but responsibly--in their assorted homes. She learns how to deal with the vicious, decadent inhabitants of Palm Beach. She befriends her husband's ex-lover, and by book's end, she's even broken the ice with her husband's crusading-journalist son. Loretta is unreal. She even returns the bus fare.--Betty Lukas

Solar house in New York's Catskill Mountains designed by architect Paul F. Pietz in a style suggestive of Queen Anne.

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