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September 26, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE VERY RICH HOURS: Travels Orkney, Belize, the Everglades and Greece by Emily Hiestand (Beacon Press: $12.; 224 pp.). In these recherche accounts of exotic locales, Hiestand discusses ecological and social issues and the minute details that often linger in memory as geographic signatures (e.g., the way spiders in the Everglades spin webs on a rented houseboat). The intelligent, reportorial tone of the narrative falters when the author searches Greece for a past dominated by a goddess-cult, a past for which there is considerable ideological support but little archeological evidence.

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