California Senator Boxer’s first novel follows the fortunes of a young children’s advocate and her politically polarized swains.
Another dogwood-redolent D.C. spring, 2001. Frosh Senator Ellen Fischer (D-Calif.) is considering how best to block the appointment of conservative Frida Hernandez to the Supreme Court. Greg, a journalist co-opted by the right, offers her the dirt she needs: hospital records suggesting Hernandez abused her child. Pillow talk between Greg and former researcher Micaela reveals that the tell-tale documents are fakes. Flashback to 1974, Berkeley. Ellen is canvassing signatures for the Children’s Alliance when she encounters two fellow UC seniors, pony-tailed radical Josh Fischer and studly Greg Hunter, the rejected son of an ex-Marine. Josh and Ellen are drawn to each other ideologically, but on the night of Nixon’s resignation, she and Greg share a post-celebratory one-night stand. Cut to 1982. Ellen and Josh are married. He’s a beleaguered public defender while Ellen continues her work rescuing disadvantaged children for the Alliance. Greg, cub reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, reconnects with gal-pal socialite Jane Hecht, ingratiating himself with her father, Gunther, a Reagan-backer. Josh falls hard for Bianca, a murder defendant’s wife, but she disappears after her husband’s acquittal. In 1989, Josh heroically interrupts a high-school shooting. His political career accelerates as he cleans up a polluted neighborhood. Greg succumbs to the blandishments of Senator Carl Satcher, Republican powerhouse. Soon Greg has morphed into Satcher’s media lapdog, his investigative skills harnessed for dirt-digging on Democrats. Josh challenges Satcher for his Senate seat in 1998, and Greg and Micaela find Bianca. Josh is most daunted by the insinuation that he fathered Bianca’s daughter, since Ellen’s longing for a child was thwarted by infertility. Driving recklessly home to confess, Josh rear-ends a truck and—why ruin the suspense?
Short on subtlety and insider dish, this political page-turner will nevertheless rally the blue and annoy the red.