GOLDEN DAYS by Carolyn See


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In this amusing, manic and ultimately fractured new novel, See (Mothers, Daughters; Rhine Maidens) begins by satirizing still another set of disaffected, divorced, grasping southern California matrons and ends by elevating their survival tactics (read: selling themselves by believing in themselves) into a universal value: somehow or other, belief and greed combine to help them survive a nuclear war. Edith Langley, the narrator, has brought her two teen-age daughters to Los Angeles determined that her name will ""mean money, and money meant power."" Immediately, she runs into a friend from her college days, Lorna Villanelle, a dreamy-eyed, est-style mystic whose power of positive thinking will soon make her (and, indirectly, her friend Edith) rich and well-loved beyond most women's fondest dreams. Edith learns to put aside the bitterness of two divorces (one husband was ""sad, one mad"") in order to take advantage of the next man who comes along--elderly Skip Chandler, who adores her and makes her president of a Los Angeles bank. Lorna takes her own ""get rich by thinking rich"" philosophy to the early-morning TV-show circuit--and gets rich. But then--oh, horrors--a bunch of avaricious, insecure men (""I realized. . .that 'make love, not war' was not off the point but exactly on it: to make love often enough that premature ejaculation was out of the question"") launch a nuclear war. The final scenes of the novel--in which Edith and her friends, ravaged by radiation, survive by means of love of the world reinforced by hoarded wealth--are weirdly powerful: like watching ""The Day After"" from a cushy perch at the Esalen Institute. See is not a stylist or a deep thinker, but she has a sharp satirical talent and she puts it to use here on a strikingly contemporary topic.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1986
ISBN: 0520206738
Publisher: McGraw-Hill