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IN BRIEF

Fiction

September 01, 1996|Erika Taylor

HER OWN RULES by Barbara Taylor Bradford (HarperCollins: $24, 320 pp.) Over the last 17 years, Barbara Taylor Bradford's name has become emblematic of the kind of writer who churns out bestseller after bestseller, all of them engrossing and, many would say, disposable, fiction. Her latest novel, "Her Own Rules," is no exception.

Meredith Stratton has always known that something went terribly wrong early in her childhood but could never remember exactly what. Raised partly in an orphanage and partly by a family that didn't want her, Meredith grew up to become extremely self-reliant, a trait that helped make her the successful owner of six elegant hotels. Eventually, Meredith's past begins to bleed into her present as fragments of memory and physical symptoms threaten to destroy the sense of well-being she has worked so hard to create.

"Her Own Rules" suffers from some obvious problems that are surprising to see from a writer of Bradford's experience. The most glaring is an almost complete lack of peril, or even conflict, in Meredith's current life, so that the novel's only real concern is what happened in the past. Additionally, Meredith has a romance that strains credulity even by the standards of the genre. In spite of these flaws, "Her Own Rules" will, no doubt, satisfy many people.

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