HANDSOME WOMEN by Judith Henry Wall


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Like Wall's first book, Love and Duty (1988), here's an extended look at American family life, circa 1940-70, from, of course, the viewpoint of the wives. Again, her subjects are the tittery sexual initiations of teen-age girls, the laying of marriage traps, and the way that, years down the road, the female trappers wake up to find themselves caught in cages of their own devising. This time Wall's effort is somewhat distinguished by its military setting, following the lives of two sisters, Louise and Marynell Rodgers, who marry West Pointers under me traditional crossed sabers. Louise's Franklin is a general's son with a couple of stars in his future (by way of heroic performance in the South Pacific during WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and tinny a solo escape from italian terrorists); in private, he's a tyrant who doesn't like Louise to enjoy sex too much and fails to learn he's occasionally fallible when his youngest son dies in a boating accident (which he, in part, caused). Ambitious Marynell ends up with a nice widower who doesn't want to stay in the Army, two sons who appall her by heading for Canada to avoid the draft, and a lingering sense of jealousy for her sister. She's shocked when Louise deserts Franklin late in life to find happiness with an Italian innkeeper, but then comes around when her stepson, Matt, marties Louise's daughter, the widow of a Vietnam MIA. The tone is self-satisfied and convivial, just right for a certain women's magazine set, though others will find it colossally anachronistic.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Viking