DEAR STRANGER by Catherine Kidwell

DEAR STRANGER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A lively, blessedly un-preachy lib/romance--about a middle-age Midwestern housewife who bolts to New York for a career, romance, and Life. During WW II in her home city of Lancaster, Bonnie, secretary to a hardware manufacturer, meets Lieut. John Blake, Army pilot and Harvard grad. They dance to jukebox swing, fall in love, and marry within a week, in 1943--""when girls were red-lipped and virginal, and the measure of time was the duration."" But John is shipped out, and Bonnie will not see him again until 1975! What happened? Well, thanks to John's evil Mother and ex-girlfriend, the wartime Bonnie mistakenly becomes convinced that John really wants out of the marriage--so she writes the painful letter that leads to annulment, marries faithful but ramrod--rigid Frank Forbes (from the hardware company), and is a conscientious wife-and-mother: in her ""chlorophyll-clean living room"" her little dinners were triumphs, and ""her PTA minutes were always approved as read."" But Frank never really listens to Bonnie's different drummer--and she chips away at the hardening shell of exec-wife monotony by lending timid support to a Sixties peace protest, then works for McGovern. . . until Frank, fearing promotion problems, forces her to quit. So, on the brink of mental illness, Bonnie recovers; and, after one too many growls from Frank about her slow start on dinner coffee, she's on her way, bags packed, to New York--where she meets John, now a distinguished lawyer. Love re-blooms; Bonnie begins to take courses, write, work for an environmental group; she sleeps with two younger men, including John's brother Marc, an unhappy banker who longs to paint. And after Frank agrees to a divorce (he himself has a naughty detour with Bonnie's young Manhattan neighbor, who sings topless), John and Bonnie become regular, faithful lovers. A pleasant mix of nostalgia and liberation--with agile, likable, uncomplicated characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1982
Publisher: Warner