Having tackled magazine editors, ghost-writers, and first-time novelists, Feldman (Looking for Love, 1990, etc.), who also writes as Elizabeth Villars, now turns to freelancers and young-adult gurus in her latest spin on Manhattan literati. Terminally unmarried Hallie Fields forgets the advice an editor once gave her never to ``sleep with a subject'' when the subject of her latest profile, one handsome and dashing Dexter St. John, expresses an interest that goes beyond the purely professional. Dexter is the founder and president of the Twenty- first Century Health Fund and on the road more often than not, leaving Hallie plenty of time to ignore his flaws and engross herself in her new subject: the woman who reinvented the YA novel. Emma Weill, a formerly neglected child of divorce from Hallie's own hometown and now a world-renowned writer, appears to have it all: a rewarding and successful career, two happy children, and a handsome, intelligent husband in Julian, a former professor and would-be writer living off Emma's royalty checks and advances. But behind the scenes, of course, Julian is an adulterous lech who not only hits on Hallie as she works on her profile but has affairs with countless students and other young victims, all in a pathetic yet effective attempt to exert power over Emma in the only way he feels he can. With her customary in-depth interviewing, it doesn't take Hallie long to realize that this subject's life is more complicated than it seemed at first. And when disaster inevitably strikes, it's she who has to help pick up the pieces, in the process gaining insight into her own past and into the hearts and minds of women as close to home as her mother and herself. Feldman's feminist intentions become murky at times, and the intended suspense is nonexistent, but Hallie and Emma manage to save some face in this lukewarm portrayal of modern womanhood.
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