LOVE AND WORK by Gwyneth Cravens
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Angela Lee (divorced) gets a job working for Joe Bly (also divorced but currently attached) as his assistant on a Manhattan newsletter. And, from the first interview, there is the electrification of love: ""She has the notion that they are only pretending to converse, as if they were in a movie and the director wanted a long shot without voices and so they just mouth words."" Their first days as co-workers are alive with attraction and energy; there is no doubt that any week now they will go to bed together. There is doubt, however, as to how (or even if) Joe will ever disentangle himself from Edith, his live-in lover--whom he does not particularly love but for whom he nonetheless feels great responsibility. (She has apparently given up thoughts of marriage and children in favor of a career and Joe's no-strings-attached presence.) So Angela waits. There are occasional blisses, weekends of lovemaking--but then Joe will get sick, for instance (colds, appendicitis), and Edith will nurse him back into guilt-ridden line. Finally, in a kind of desperate act of self-destructiveness, Joe even marries Edith, as if to protect himself from the unbearable passion Angela represents. And meanwhile Angels is suffering, suffering from this sine-wave love--a feeling that is captured splendidly here: for Angela, the world disappears and is replaced by various shades of misery, while for Joe reality only seems to intensify, making him ever more scared. True, Cravens, author of the highly uneven Speed of Light, throws some strictly bargain-basement elements into her story: Angela's single neighbor is straight out of TV's Rhoda; there's a callous and neurotic substitute lover, and pompous co-workers. But she also slathers New York City atmospheres upon her characters with such fervor that near-absolute believability is thickly achieved: a simple scenario is thus made to pulse with the right-here-and-now--and, if less than completely nourishing (with some slightly cheap manipulations in the Joe/Angela distribution-of-guilt), this involving, intimate novel is one of the more successful urbanromance books in recent years.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1982
Publisher: Knopf