Another investigation of the cracks in the lives of picture-perfect contemporary women—those who suffer booms and busts that Berk suggests are the legacy of feminism. As such, her second novel should capture the same readers who gobbled up Fast Forward (1983), though leaving others hungry for something deeper. Berk's triple portrait outlines the midlife crises of a group of college roommates who've traveled a bumpy road since graduating 25 years ago. They are: Georgie, a Larchmont wife and mother who tries to fill the emptiness inside by cooking, who's grown fat and lonely now that kids have left the nest, and who probably never did love her hardworking but unexciting husband, Lew; Suzanne, a talented artist too afraid to chuck her job at an advertising firm and paint, divorced, but leaning on the scanty emotional support of a married man who keeps telling her that he'll leave his wife soon; and beautiful Beth, who writes a syndicated column about women's problems, and goes bonkers when she falls in love with a much younger man, chopping off her locks and eschewing makeup just to show him how decrepit she really is. Periodically they get together to kvetch, and come to each other's rescue when, for instance, Georgie attempts suicide or Suzanne has her first gallery exhibit. But, ultimately, they can't help Beth, who dies in an automobile accident, leaving Suzanne and Georgie to ponder whether it's "the beginning of the end" or "the end of the beginning." Ersatz the questions, tinny the types, and all too predictable the perils that, according to Berk, threaten in the middle of life.
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