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Mandrake Root

269 pages4 hours


This is the story of two journeys. The first is the cruise of the sailing yacht Cybele. The second is the journey into a woman’s past. After ten years of marriage, Roger and Emily Stratton decide on a second honeymoon. He is a writer and has bought a tiny sailing yacht for a Caribbean cruise.

A few days out of port they are anchored off an uninhabited island when the scheme begins to rumble around in Roger’s mind: Perhaps, even after ten years of marriage, there is a way, some way, to make his and Emily’s love what he has always dreamed it would be.

Three days later they go ashore and Roger broaches his plan to Emily:

“Suppose you and I pledge each other to tell the complete and utter truth, including all our past, good, bad or heretofore unspeakable,” he said. “Suppose we spend the rest of this cruise prying and probing into every past act no matter how matter how hurtful or deadly or disgusting it seems at the time....If we really do a full job, in complete honesty with each other, I believe with all my heart that we can build ourselves the finest love any couple could want.”

Emily agrees. She believes her behaviour has been no better or worse than that of any of the other women in her circle who pride themselves on their civilized sophistication. Nor does she have any idea of just how much she has to hide, or of what she will finally be driven to reveal. In her innocence, she adds to Roger’s plan with the suggestion that their confessions will be wonderful material for his next novel.

In MANDRAKE ROOT, Frederic Wakeman tells a story which reaches to the heart of many, many marriages. His novel is a mature and painstaking consideration of what went wrong in a marriage and how two people tried to save their failure.

“Why anyone would read the Kinsey Report when this is available passes understanding.”—Pasadena Star-News

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