ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY by Irene Tiersten


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An enervating slog through guilts, glums, and lawyers' conferences--as a pair of rather colorless lovers divorce, marry, and deal with children and ex-es in three households. Nina Stein, mother of teenage Karen and young Andrew, has been having an affair with Dr. Daniel Wasser, father of teenage Richard and younger Jimmy. So Nina leaves her unsimpatico husband Martin and moves into an apartment with Daniel, who leaves nagging wife Janet. But it's no idyll. Both ex-es are programming kids (Nina's two remain with Martin) for combat. Visiting times are dreadful. Karen and Richard are prone to rages, withdrawal, and complaints; Andrew and Jimmy tune up the pathos. Then Nina is jolted by her own anger when Martin teams up with new love Rachel--who moves in with her kid. Is Rachel, then, taking Nina's place as a mother? Nina sets out to discontinue Martin's custody-rights, but, oddly, Daniel isn't too happy about the kids moving in with them. And when the divorces come through, alimony-conscious Nina and Daniel find themselves spying on Janet's household since it seems that she's been housing lover Irvin. So it goes, like an endless late-night story at a bar, and there's more in store: ""excommunication"" for Nina and Daniel by their rabbi (whose wife is Janet's pal); Andrew's confession that he punched Rachel's sleeping child; a trip to Martha's Vineyard soured by tantrums; Andrew's bar mitzvah, with Nina discriminated against; and Nina's worries over Daniel's inability to disconnect himself from his old life. They do marry, however, moving to a house. The older children mature. And Andrew and Jimmy seem to be settling down--while Nina and Daniel finally learn to trust. Authentic, perhaps--but, with dull people and unaccented ingredients, lacking in narrative juice or drive.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's