Up until she turned thirteen, Ruth Bellafontaine enjoyed the ups and downs of a typical small town childhood. While she didn't have a father, her mother's "friend," movie director Maxwell Jones, filled in whenever possible. For Ruth, her normal, safe childhood ends tragically the day her mother agrees to sell her virginity to "Uncle Max" in exchange for his continued financial support.

Mentally and emotionally scarred, a teenage Ruth contemplates suicide until she sees a television documentary on Dr. Brett Corday and his mountain gorilla Cee Cee, who has learned American sign language. Inspired, Ruth determines that someday she will meet Dr. Corday and thank him for his effect on her troubled young life.

Years later, Ruth unexpectedly gets that opportunity after she meets Brett's younger brother Malone. Malone, with his sweetness, makes her yearn for the emotions lacking in her life. Because of the molestation, Ruth has never been able to have a fulfilling relationship with any man. Despite her inability to love, she marries Malone in an attempt to escape the twisted Max, who continues to try and manipulate Ruth back into his clutches.

Escaping to the Virungas, the home of the mountain gorilla and the Corday Foundation base camp, seems an ideal get-away plan. But Ruth soon realizes that her gratitude towards Brett has turned into a deep abiding love. The ghosts from her past are actively destroying her future; can she gather the strength to fight them off?

With each new novel, author Peggy Webb pushes the boundaries and expands her unique storytelling ability. FROM A DISTANCE is an emotionally charged novel that plumbs the darkness of obsession and the joys of redeeming love. Powerful and unforgettable reading. (Oct., 432 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith