A charming anomaly: a woman's novel that's goofy, predictable, and unusually entertaining all at the same time. The story is a set-piece: Maia Rose, celebrated beauty- columnist for glamorous Chic magazine in New York, is 31 and has been a tragic widow for nine years (her young husband keeled over during a shopping trip to Macy's)--when suddenly she finds herself in the grip of an identity crisis. Does she really want to remain a fashionable beauty writer? Live in swank, expensive New York? Stay single forever? She doesn't know, so decides to take a vacation trip to think it over--to Australia, though at the last minute Chic's clairvoyant astrologer convinces her to go to Mexico instead. Missing a connecting flight to Acapulco, Maia lands in Yucatan. Encountering a Guatemalan refugee named Miguel Angel with a tragic past, Maia falls in love. Being stymied by Hurricane Gilbert when she tries to fly back to N.Y.C., she greets fate with a smile and settles down in Yucatan. She stays nine months (few in New York seem to miss her), sets up house with the Guatemalan, and then undergoes a wildly delayed, completely predictable reaction to the poverty around her and to revelations of Miguel's tragic past (he strangled his own baby to save a town!). She flees back to New York (her apartment is quietly waiting), where Miguel soon follows, and (after shopping at the Gap), the two reunite passionately and live happily ever after with their mutually tragic histories (he's immediately been accepted by her many friends). All of this is silly, but Dunkel (Every Woman Loves a Russian Poet, 1989--not reviewed) has a lighthearted, rollicking style and such an endearingly goofy character in Maia that the reader doesn't mind--almost doesn't mind--the slapdash predictability.