Novelist/nonfiction author Schulman (The Revisionist, 1998, etc.) offers yet another tale of an angst-ridden late-thirtysomething obsessing about relationships.
She’s smart, she’s attractive, she’s got a good job, and none of that means much to Louise Harrington because the men in her life . . . aren’t. That is, either they’re not actually in her life, or they don’t really qualify as men in any grown-up sense of the word. Two exceptions: (1) physics professor Peter Harrington (good, kind), but Louise divorced him four years ago for reasons she still can’t quite come to grips with, and (2) Scott Feinstadt. The trouble with Scott is that he died in 1960. Or did he? Suddenly, mysteriously, there’s reason to wonder. Louise, acting admissions coordinator at Columbia University, comes across a startling, unnerving application—from Scott Feinstadt. Flashback to her senior year at suburban Larchmont High, when the adored if elusive Feinstadt was her very reason for being, when she stalked him assiduously enough to convert detachment into something that could pass for responsiveness. Never mind that she subsequently lost him to her unscrupulous best friend, then lost him permanently in a highway accident. He remained the one, true love of her life. And now, incredibly here’s this “recycled” Feinstadt, a painter, too, exactly like his forerunner. Born on the very same day, would you believe. Residing in Mamaroneck, a stone’s throw from Larchmont. But, lucky Louise, this one turns out to be an improved Feinstadt: equally handsome, more erotically adept, and sweeter-natured to boot. If only she could be absolutely certain he wasn’t a ghost.
The back-from-the-dead premise is such a stretch, and Louise is so whining, wheedling, groveling, and desperately seeking that—in her own description—she lacks dignity. Which goes to the heart of why it’s so hard to like her.