Perfect-seeming nanny too good to be true in Weldon's ironic study of hip Londoners

June 18, 2006|By VICTORIA A. BROWNWORTH | VICTORIA A. BROWNWORTH,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

She May Not Leave

Fay Weldon

The Flamenco Academy

Sarah Bird

Alfred A. Knopf / 400 pages / $25

Sarah Bird has a flare for the baroque and best-sellers. Her coming-of-age tale, The Flamenco Academy, is a deft exploration of love, desire and jealousy told against the backdrop of that most complex of dances, flamenco, and the complicated creatures drawn to its tempestuous restraint. Cyndi Rae and Didi are 17-year-old best friends; Rae is the pale, blond, tentative good girl on the verge of nerd-dom before the flirty, sexy, bad girl Didi gets hold of her when the two meet as their fathers are dying of cancer.

Enter Tomas, the flamenco guitarist and maestro of romance in Albuquerque, who takes the girls in hand, playing them off against each other as the castanets play off against the staccato stomping of flamenco. More than a summer romance, it is a vivid tale of what can happen to girls who have nothing but each other and trouble all around.

Victoria A. Brownworth is a syndicated columnist and the author and editor of 24 books. Her forthcoming collection, "Day of the Dead and Other Stories," will be published later this year.

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