PEACHY by Fredrica Wagman


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 Wagman (Magic Man, Magic Man, 1975, etc.) returns after almost 18 years to limn--in excruciatingly pretentious prose--the midlife crisis of an aging American Princess. As 40-ish Peachy Marvel, having dropped off daughter Ruthie at Harvard for her freshman year, walks down Brattle Street, she notices for the first time that she's become ``invisible.'' Men no longer look at the woman ``who used to make heads spin when [she'd] mosey down any street in Philadelphia''--which is enough of an observation to provoke the crisis that, admittedly, has been brewing for a while but now emerges in full spate. Peachy proceeds to record the fluctuations of this crisis that, begun on Brattle Street, continues in a bookshop where she meets the great writer Manuel Zot; gets into high gear on the Massachusetts Turnpike; and finally peaks at a niece's wedding in suburban Philadelphia. There, Peachy finds happiness, understanding, and a lot of other good things. In addition to the crisis reportage, there's a frenetic monologue--embellished with quotes from Pascal, Flaubert, and other fashionable intellectuals--in which Peachy tells the story of her life: A happy childhood as the adored daughter of her physician father is followed by an uneasy adolescence when her father is less loving; Peachy's voluble mother begins to plot marriage; and Peachy is expelled from high school for a reason so implausible that it can only be to facilitate the next step in her life--marriage at 18 to Alfred. A prosperous fur-broker, Alfred gives his young wife everything she wants; but when the couple's baby is killed in an accident, for which Peachy feels responsible, the two drift apart and Alfred leaves for another woman. But Peachy, bad memories finally exorcised, can now ``forgive so that you can go on loving,'' and move forward. Poor Peachy, poor us, who must endure her pretensions to humor, brilliance, and sympathy. More a lemon than a peach.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-939149-72-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992


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