LOVE, ETC. by Bel Kaufman
Kirkus Star


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A big, messy, good-natured circling around the raw center of divorce, but Kaufman's circuitous route takes some getting used to; her four-angled revelations are initially confusing. There are, first of all, the joshing letters sent between 56-year-old Jessica, long divorced from husband Charles, to her fellow-author friend Nina. Then there's Jessica's diary, in which she ruminates about her life and gives a rose-petal account of her affair with glittering Max, purveyor of wine, flowers, truffles, and exquisite scraps of poetry. Plus: ""book notes"" in which Jessica outlines her problems with the book she is writing, a novel about a divorce -- and, finally, the Book itself, in brief chapters all about poor trammeled Isabel, her nasty husband Edgar, their breakup and clays in court. In the Book, Isabel, the eternal victim while Edgar is a prodigious tightwad who refuses at first to divorce although he's been sleeping away and around on weekends. Edgar becomes sinister when locked out, lies grandly about his money, and is generally a bounder; Isabel, squired by rascally lawyers, loses practically everything, including the confidences of her children. And, while fictional Isabel and Edgar are being sent through their paces, author Jessica is being loved extravagantly by Max (""brilliant, handsome, cultivated, witty, rich . . . I've stepped smack into a fairy tale""). But this Prince Charming finally gallops off with Jessica's life savings -- and as she slowly battles her way back into coping, her book characters rise up from the printed page and demand the tolerance and understanding she was not able to give in her own life. Although blistered with a heavy coat of punning humor and some dreadful light verse, there's a happy scattering of amusing quips here; and the concept of the whole has a diverting popular novelty, a quality which, like the plunge up the down staircase, seems to be Kaufman's specialty. A quirky winner.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1979
Publisher: Prentice-Hall