THE WOMEN IN HER DREAMS by Candace Denning


Email this review


Light-footed and deliciously nimble in its writing, a novel about two sisters (from the author of Adventures with Julia, 1986) that fails to satisfy only because of the one-note psychology of its characters. Sarah and Laura Broderhouse are hometown twin sisters who seem destined to fail in love--but who show only meager judgment of themselves or of men. At story's opening, Laura is about to marry one Matthew, while Sarah (photojournalist for the local paper) is on the rebound from a failed affair with a married man. As Sarah drifts into and out of an additional desultory affair or two (with subjects she's photographing for the paper), Laura's marriage gradually crumbles (Matthew reveals himself a self-centered lunk and cheats on her). While her sister's marriage is decaying, Sarah leaves town with a one-dimensional lunk of her own, the caricatured and thuggish Jack Summers--who lures her (she's inexplicably willing) away on his tough-guy motorcycle, treats her abysmally (he once bets on a pool game with Sarah as the pot), finally robs and abandons her somewhere in Michigan. Brought home to sister and parents, Sarah fills the rest of the novel thinking about it all, but with less direction than listless meandering ("". . .she felt so bored. Her life was escaping""; ""Maybe she could go crazy. It would be some place to go. Someone to be""). Pleasantly woven cameos and vignettes about family dinners, the sweetly eccentric aunts Mildred and Margaret, and the twins' muddled but well-intended parents Irene and Lloyd accompany the reader to the end, but the poetic delicacies-in-prose of Sarah's small-town woolgathering and vaguely frustrated rememberings don't energize a narrative that has difficulty ending itself, having depended for its dramatic life on characters either preternaturally passive (Sarah and Laura) or stock and throw-away-thin (Matthew and Jack). Fleet in its stylistic pleasures, but disappointing in the substance within.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1988
Publisher: North Point