It’s sad when second novels plunk down with a belly-flop. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing was so good, and The Wonder Spot is so mediocre.
Here’s the high point of the book. Sadly, this is right at the beginning and then it fades out.
Venice Lambourne was famous the way a beautiful girl can be in a small circle of places and parties, but hardly anyone knew her. Knock-out was the word people used to describe Venice, and bombshell, and she did seem to stir violence; men could seem almost angry at her for being so pretty.
She was very thin and very tall — five foot ten in flat shoes. She almost always wore flats, one pair until they wore out, and then she’d get another. She didn’t have many things — not many clothes or many possessions, either; she believed in owning only perfect things, or, as she said, “one perfect thing.”
Her hair was blond and straight, and she tucked it behind her ears; she had blue eyes that you noticed partly because her brows were so dark and thick.
She said, “I’m Venice Lambourne,” and when she shook my hand her formality unnerved me so much that I answered as I’d been instructed to as a child: “How do you do?” Then I said, “I’m Sophie Applebaum.”
She told me that she’d been traveling and was exhausted; she’d come all the way from Antibes.
I hadn’t heard of Antibes but vaguely remembered a movie called Raid on Entebbe, and was it in Israel or somewhere in Africa? Was Israel in Africa?
“Wow,” I said, and then suggested that maybe she wanted to check in with our resident adviser, a button-nosed teddy bear named Betsy, who’d been worried.
This Venice seemed not to hear. “I need a drink,” she said.
When I told her about the soda machine in the basement, she turned and looked at me as though I was the last and possibly the longest leg of her trip.
It took her about thirty seconds to get ready. She didn’t change her clothes — a robin’s-egg-blue boatneck, white capris, and black flats, each a perfect thing — and didn’t wear makeup, herself a perfect thing. All she did was wash her face.