PROMISES by Belva Plain


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 What could be more venerable, time-encrusted, and useful to a popular novelist like Plain (The Carousel, 1995, etc.) than a drama about a destructive diddling with the Seventh Commandment? Here we have the Noble Wife, mother of three Marvelous Children, and the Errant Husband, bent on adultery, heeding a call to the wild side. If her guardian angel had been on the job in 1973 when Margaret was being fitted for her wedding gown, wondering why fiancÇ Adam had been so distant lately (``If Adam ever leaves me. . . I shall die''), she would have encouraged Margaret to continue her medical studies, cancel the dress, and send Adam packing. But marriage ensued, and now, in 1988, the Adam Cranes have three nice kids. Margaret teaches school. And Adam (in computers) is about to be whistled to heel by Randi, the siren he was having an affair with while Margaret was preparing for their wedding. Randi, long absent, has moved into town. In spite of her rejection of him years before (for a live-in with more money), Adam is once again drawn to Randi and her ``magic flesh.'' When he touches her ``a thrill of peril shook through him. . . He needed this woman.'' The truth dawns slowly on Margaret and her brood. Standing by, meanwhile, are kind friends and one aging suitor, but in the wake of the marriage's collapse she is faced with having to sell the family house and even give up the family dog. Love and doubt turn to righteous rage, and the divorce proceedings are begun, via a likable (unmarried) lawyer. Margaret, having regrouped, is recouping. But what of Adam? Will he get his? You bet. The message couldn't be Plain-er--woe to promise-breakers--and the characters couldn't be broader. Color Margaret virtuous gold, Randi (a moniker on target) a flaming red, and Adam, lizard green. A heavy clunker that Plain manages to move along. Not her best. (Literary Guild main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-31110-9
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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