CONJUGAL RITES by Ellen Feldman


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Divorce Manhattan high-rise style. Feldman, as in her a.k.a. Katherine Walden (1982), peppers her work with some stand-up put-downs of Gotham trendies and the battle of the sexes--which makes this book more entertaining than the sum of her glossy characters. Of the three Brandt sisters, Emily is the lawyer; she'll handle not only the splits of her two sisters, but that of her ex-husband, Jake, from Wife Two. But Emily has her own problems--mainly in life-with-Peter, marvelous in bed but the kind who ""never said he was sorry."" And he's expensive. Sister Laura has just been dumped by husband Ezra, the ruthless psychiatrist. Ezra wants out, with as much of his dough as he can grasp from Laura, and he wants their teen-aged daughter, Isabel. Meanwhile, sister Hallie the Gorgeous and up-to-the-minute stylish (her wildly expensive shoes ""looked as if they had been wrestled from the feet of a dead Wren during the Blitz"") is the chairperson of AWE (Association of Executive Women), busy ""networking"" and hunting up ""new target markets"" like baby counseling and ""gender balancing."" She is married to Daniel, the computer genius, who barely looks up from his terminal--until Hallie zeroes in on gilded exec Ned, ""whose accent. . .was full of money."" To Daniel, their marriage is no longer ""state of the art."" Through a Manhattan year of sisterly raps and family occasions with mother Dottle (with shifting male attendance), Emily exchanges fire with her clients' legal opposition, and worries about her growing attachment to Jake (but not to his little daughter, Nina) after she's jettisoned Peter. While Laura finds herself, as free-standing mother to Isabel, Hallie comets on. Set mainly in Manhattan with an interlude in Nantucket, this is suds with a brassy gleam--and it bubbles.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1985
Publisher: Morrow