August 28, 1995 12:00 PM

by Luanne Rice

Like most good writers, Luanne Rice often revisits territory she has covered in previous books—and this sixth novel borrows heavily from Blue Moon, her acclaimed last work published in 1993.

The setting is a seafaring New England town—this time a Nantucket-like island; the characters, again, are a contemporary woman and her family, whose love and commitment are tested by a cataclysmic event. There are complex relationships with teenage children, an ambivalent bond between sisters and a couple of multilayered marriages. While all that meshed in the earlier novel, in Home Fires the plot twists seem contrived, the characters lifeless. Rice seems to have labored too hard to tie up all the frazzled ends that make people human and give their dramas credibility. (Bantam, $21.95)

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