A NEW WOMAN by Janine Boissard


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The sugary French author of A Matter of Feeling (1980) now cushions the familiar tale of a dumped-wife's liberation into a pleasantly confessional affair. . . in which woman's-lib is less like the shedding of shackles than the unhooking of an ankle bracelet. Claudine is serenely happy as wife to lawyer-husband Julian and mother of two now-grown children. But then, after 25 years, Julian announces that he's leaving her for another woman. And Claudine reacts with disbelief and desolation, with crazy fantasies of Julian's return. Furthermore, she now hates her job with antique-dealer Fabienne; she hates rattling alone in a luxury three-bedroom apartment or fluttering timidly in restaurants (""I was flooded with embarrassment. At being seen alone with my wine, flower and candle""); she's humiliated at the unemployment office, a standout among the truly needy; there's a failed attempt to recapture the happy life by becoming a nanny. Eventually, however, two factors propel Claudine to independent living: kind, middle-aged Florent Leroy, the considerate lover (who, unlike Julian, respects her mind); and a ""Transition Program"" for women re-entering the job market (basic skill preparation, group therapy for confidence, and a bolstering camaraderie). As Florent says, ""Once I held a little girl in my arms, and now I've got a woman."" So, after the divorce, Claudine can watch Julian (a ""grey-haired child"") ride off on his motorcycle with naught but ""tenderness."" A gentle, frosted-coif version of the now-venerable Lib novel: agreeable and ladylike reading for those who want to run through it all again.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Little, Brown