ILLUSIONS OF LOVE by Cynthia Freeman
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Martin Roth of San Francisco, 50-ish and wealthy, is mulling over the quality of the love he has for wife Sylvia, mother of their two children--now that he has bumped into old-flame Jenny McCoy, who represents the ""longing and passion of his youth."" So: which lady will Martin choose to spend the rest of his life with? The answer won't come until after a long, enervating clutch of flashbacks--going all the way back to Martin's great-grandfather, Ephraim Rothenberger, who survives all manner of danger and discomfort to finally arrive in California, penniless, from his native Paris. Ephraim becomes an affluent banker, who leaves--perhaps more important than his wealth--a legacy of devout Judaism. His descendants, however, are rather pale about religion, fairly well insulated from anti-Semitism. And when Martin enters Yale, his only pal is scholarship student Dominic Gatti--who, once he has established his ad agency in New York, introduces Martin to his true love: Catholic Jenny McCoy. Martin announces marriage plans. His parents are appalled. Childhood friend Sylvia, a patient-Griselda type who has dumped first-love Maury (""from a long line of middle-class dentists""), is also floored. So finally Jewish guilt and Irish-Catholic guilt combine to booby-trap the Martin/Jenny march to the altar; Jenny, who'd ""never fit,"" leaves forever. (""I'm going away because I love you."") And Martin then has a long, serene marriage to nice, self-effacing, adoring Sylvia until. . . Jenny makes her mind up, 25 years later, to snatch Martin away from his wife. Which one will he choose? Lady Sylvia or tiger McCoy? The suspense is more soporific than gripping--but the Freeman readership (A World Full of Strangers, Come Pour the Wine) can be expected to turn out nonetheless for this soggy re-run of the old, old story.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Putnam