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 After a ten-year hiatus from novels, Gutcheon (The New Girls, 1979; Still Missing, 1981) offers a contemporary tale about the state of domestic life in the Big Applea surprisingly upbeat story of romantic love complicated by exes and adolescent offspring, if somewhat cushioned by money. When the ex-husband of children's book illustrator Martha Forbes dies in a plane crash, Martha is forced to deal with his attorney Charles Leveque, whom she hates for his rote in the meager divorce settlement she received. Despite their differences, though, they soon discover a mutual respectand attractionas they both navigate the waters of single parenting. For them, getting together is easy; staying together, much harder. Real life problems abound, in particular the heavy crush that develops between her teen-age son Jack and his teen-age daughter Phoebe. In the meantime, Gutcheon has her usual sharp ear for dialogue, deft skill with plot, and sound insight into the workings of the human heartthe way in which both Martha and son Jack are able to end relationships with dignity, for instance, is more useful learning than any self-help book. And while the hardships that accompany private-school privilege may not always stir our sympathy (nor, perhaps, does Martha's protest that, except for the $100,000 she inherited from her grandmother, she's had to work ever since she got out of school), the characters' searcha search shared by almost every adult and child in the novelfor love and acceptance, and the comfort of family ties, as labyrinthine as they may have become, ultimately make this a pleasure all the way through. A delicious and satisfying read.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-54579-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991


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