IF LOVE WERE ALL by Judith Henry Wall


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In this sweet soap from Wall (Blood Sisters, 1992), a middle-aged woman juggles self-fulfillment with the demands of family and community. Charlotte Haberman has been a good wife and mother. She’s been Donna Reed, Jane Wyatt, and Jane Wyman at home, a Sunday-school teacher at the local Lutheran church, and an English teacher at the middle school in her small Nebraska town. She’s a kind sister; a good friend; a dutiful daughter to her aging and difficult mother; a homemaker who has lovingly kept alive the family traditions of summer holidays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. A monument to domestic virtue, she also spent the past several years taking care of her husband, Stan, a great guy who was dying of cancer. As Wall paints this sensitive, imperfect, striving woman, it’s hard not to like her even when, in an act that goes counter to habit, the 47-year-old widow tells her family that she’s going to sell the old family house, buy a smaller one, and spend the summer traveling in the West, wherever her whim takes her. Eight months after Stan’s death, she wants to reassert her own life; and, the real shocker, she wants to locate a man named Cory Lee—her first lover and the great passion of her life, or so she believes. Charlotte’s three grown children, one in law school and two in college, try to dissuade her and are for a time estranged. But Charlotte tries to help them through their own emotional crises as she continues to rediscover her own selfhood and sexuality, long on the back burner. In a way not dry or academic, Wall shows how families and communities can stifle the individuals within them, and how the best solutions involve time, patience, and compromise. A gentle consideration of the options in life taken by women who are both moral and adventuring.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-83765-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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