November 29, 1982 12:00 PM

by Anne Rice

All right, let’s see the hands of all those in the English-speaking world who have been waiting desperately for a 534-page novel about 18th-century Italian boys who were castrated so they would keep high-pitched voices and sing soprano roles in opera. Fine; both of you will love this book. For a lot of other people, though, it will be a struggle. Rice, 41, wrote the marvelously inventive Interview with the Vampire and The Feast of All Saints. Her prose is vivid and fast-flowing. But this book, full as it is of homosexual couplings and arcane lore about such things as desexing techniques, is hardly the stuff of which inspiring novels are made. And while there seems to be a theme about manliness and father-son relationships, it is lost in the tale of a teenage boy shanghaied off to Naples to study singing after an operation he didn’t order. He bears a well-justified grudge against those who had him “cut.” The whole thing eventually becomes a long boring aria that never seems to end. (Knopf, $15.95)

You May Like