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It's 1973, and Cat Willingham, nÉe Catherine Wallenstein, is still a moderately successful fashion model at 36--moving from print work to runway jobs after her recent hysterectomy. But is Cat happy? No, not really. Her marriage to 50-ish writer/teacher Jeff has been barely existent for years, now virtually over--with Jeff up in Boston, having a quiet middle-aged affair. Despite all her misguided efforts, Cat has a bad relationship with teenage daughter Alexandra, a troubled kid who's starting boarding school, buying drugs, and unable to diet away her obesity. (""The fleshy softness of her daughter's body discombobulated her."") Nor is Cat comfortable with her ailing mother Clara, still clinging to Orthodox-Jewish ways in Brooklyn. And even her professional contacts--with homosexual designer Bo, with longtime agent Pamela--seem to be souring. So Cat broods on her past and present. (""In a way, she had it all, but it was not enough. . . . What was it she really wanted? . . . Love! That was the underlying drive. She wanted to be loved and somehow it was eluding her."") She begins a cozy affair with super-rich banker Clay, an Episcopalian widower. She also sleeps with gorgeous failed-model David, teaming up with him in schemes to start their own modeling agency with a fantastic first client: young Megan Baynes, a strange, pure beauty with a religious obsession. But Clay expects Cat to convert from Judaism if marriage is ahead; David turns out to be a repressed homosexual and a slimy schemer; Megan has a breakdown. And only when she embraces her roots--""her grandparents had been Jewish and she was the continuation and reaffirmation of their existence""--does Cat instantly get back on the track to love and happiness: a one-page 1983 epilogue tells us that Cat is running a modeling agency (not with David), back with her husband, and looking ""better than ever"". . . while daughter Alexandra is a successful artist. With stiff dialogue, a dollop or two of seamy melodrama, but fairly convincing fashion-biz details: simplistic, inoffensive soap--from the author of In Place of Love and Double Standards.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1983
Publisher: Doubleday