THE WOMAN DRIVER by Jean Thompson


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Flora Reynolds cracks her car up after being discarded by husband Gordon--and she fully realizes (wryly self-aware as she is) that ""She should have aimed her car at her husband. He was the one she'd wanted to hurt, that much seemed clear, and instead she'd done the cowardly, the weak, the female thing, and turned it on herself."" Married six years, childless, the abandoned Flora is now uncertain how to go on living. So, when her friend Suzanne seems to offer her a fling with a married man named Mike Maggio (Suzanne's own occasional lover), Flora goes along--quickly ending up in bed with Mike and, far more seriously, in love with him too. Futhermore, like Suzanne, Mike's wife Elizabeth, though hysterical and manipulative, seems to be knowingly sharing her husband with Flora--with a sort of It-might-as-well-be-you attitude. But only much later does Flora realize that Mike has been continuing with his wife and Suzanne and Flora throughout--a discovery which demolishes her emotionally. Thompson (The Gasoline Wars) writes well of Fiora's attempts--futile--at equilibrium; and one chapter narrated by wife Elizabeth is especially perceptive, vividly evoking the rhythms of a driven personality. Unfortunately, however, the material here never transcends its basically familair scenario: the pivotal character of Mike is faceless, toneless--with nothing to explain why Flora loves him. And again, as in her recent story-collection, Little Face and Other Stories, Thompson seems to be a gifted writer still searching for the right subject-matter--with an aimlessness that's especially apparent in novel-length fiction.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Watts