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Fiction in Brief

LOVERS & FRIENDS by Camille Marchetta (Arbor House/William Morrow: $18.95; 407 pp.)

September 03, 1989|SONJA BOLLE

A television writer and producer whose credits include "Dynasty," "Dallas," "Falcon Crest" and the miniseries "Scruples," Camille Marchetta begins with a story fit for her accustomed medium. Photographer Nikki Collier receives an advance copy of an unauthorized biography about her great friends, the Waltons. Theirs is a tale to excite the attention of the tabloids: An American playwright and an English film star leave respective mates to run off together. Nikki, who has known David Walton since childhood, rebels against the unfairness of such breezy journalistic treatment of a tragic story. "Lovers & Friends" is her recollection of the Waltons' affair and marriage, the story of a perfect love containing the seeds of its own destruction.

Marchetta's prose is well-paced and sensitive, moving from London to New York to Vienna in a sweep of elegance and bittersweet romance. The complexity of her characters sets her apart from the popular writers with whom one is tempted to compare her; their intelligence appears in actions and thoughts rather than in assertion by the author. The descriptions of theater life are particularly vivid.

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