THE SECRET by Cynthia Victor


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 The duo known as Cynthia Victor (What Matters Most, 1996, etc.) turn out another gently derivative soap, this time a First Wives Club descendant, with just one wife. A question attributed to Barbara Stanwyck (``Is the screwing you're getting worth the screwing you're getting?'') might be asked of heroine Miranda Schaeffer, martyr to marriage and mother of three. We know immediately that Miranda's a doormat when she rushes out to buy candy for her future husband, Stephen, as he plays bridge in a university dorm room. Stephen is an insecure boy who has never lived up to his parents' standard of excellence, and his ego is buoyed by Miranda, who adores him. Her loving servitude continues through more than a decade of marriage as she shoulders all the child care and housework and goes without rest so that Stephen can pursue his own interests. Their ``secret'' is that Stephen is ``Forrester,'' the successful author of bestsellers, written under a pseudonym so that his disapproving parents won't find out. Stephen is, it turns out, a clever fellow, and what began as a lark is soon bringing in millions. While he is on the fast track, wearing Armani suits, Miranda is on the mommy track, looking frowsy and eating too many Oreo cookies. When he decides to divorce her, Stephen begins to hide their money in secret bank accounts. Then he disappears, intending to write a serious novel good enough to prove what a great writer he really is. Refusing to be defeated, Miranda authors another and much better Forrester novel, loses weight, and falls in love with her editor. Unlike The First Wives Club, governed by the adage ``Don't get mad, get even,'' The Secret tries to create a bridge between its heroine and her family. In the end, Stephen, the stinker, is destroyed by his own character flaws. A heroine's warmth and compassion get smothered in clichÇs-- and caught up in a clunky conclusion that borders on parody.

Pub Date: July 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94034-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


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