Acerbic wit and pathos distinguish Medoff’s accomplished second novel (after Hunger Point, 1997).
The story begins with Janey’s exciting and slightly clandestine affair with her officemate, the perfect Tobias. The two are actuaries in a large New York firm, and it’s perhaps the seriousness of the profession that draws such an upper-class Adonis to the mousy, bespeckled Jane. Or more accurately, as she soon finds out, he’s just using her for a little afternoon delight. He humiliates her in public with this revelation, and so begins Janey’s walking (and stalking) neurosis. She enters group therapy to help get over Tobias, and here the fun starts. She wants to flee at first introduction to the “girls,” all either past or nearing 40: Laura, a bona fide nymphomaniac; Valentine, a compulsive overeater; Natasha, terrified of germs; Ivy, addicted to plastic surgery; Suzanna, excessively devoted to her lap dog Ginger; and Bethany, dis-inclined to be nice. Of course, what the group doesn’t know about quiet Janey is that she’s haunted by her mother’s “disappearance” and keeps a detailed list of suicide options in her purse. The girls eventually bond (during after-therapy sessions at TGI Fiday’s) and dedicate themselves to collectively solving each other’s problems. The solution often would be a well-meted-out revenge, but no matter the ethics, the girls are feeling stronger and more confident as the days go by. The climax of their vengeful pursuits ends with a cracked skull on a boardroom table and the realization that it may not be the men in their lives who are the problem, but the women themselves. All fun aside, Medoff beautifully balances the women’s diverting quirkiness with Janey’s own sincere struggle in choosing life over death.
Another success, combining genuine psychological depth with humor and irony.