LOVELIFE by Judith Searle

LOVELIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A static stew of hard-core sex, chatter about femaleness, and propagandizing for the theories of Wilhelm Reich--as 38-year-old Willa Reid (named in honor of the master, apparently) spends an interminable-seeming summer on Martha's Vineyard. Willa is staying there with her longtime lover Arthur Catlin, 63, a semi-famous painter and former notorious Casanova. But Willa and Arthur have been faithful to each other--and happy, despite Arthur's drinking and Willa's still-unresolved fretting over conflicts with her Catholic upbringing. Then, however, Arthur goes away for a brief trip; and psychology magazine-writer Willa, who's been reading up on Wilhelm Reich (he of the orgone box and sexual freedom for all, including teenagers), is promptly persuaded to have sex with 16-year-old island neighbor Eric, son of old friends. A successful show-and-tell session ensues. (""You know that sensitive place on your cock that I was touching a minute ago? Well, my clitoris--that's the little sort of button under your finger. . . ."") And when Willa tells all to Arthur upon his return, he's not in the least disapproving. Eric's mother Amanda, however, learns what happened (when Eric, infatuated, tries suicide), and she is stuffy and old-fashioned enough to get angry at Willa. (""And for all our so-called progress . . . teenage sexuality is still one of the great taboos, it seems,"" huffs Willa.) The truly serious complication, though, is that Willa is pregnant--and she doesn't know whether Eric or Arthur is the father. Should she have an abortion? First she thinks yes (""I'm going to kill you, she told the embryo""); then she thinks no; then she has a miscarriage (""The complicity between mind and body was complete""). And finally, while Eric's teenage girlfriend has an abortion and kills herself, cancer victim Amanda not only apologizes to Willa, having realized that the sex tutorial was a great idea; she even agrees with Reich that sexual frustration is the cause of cancer (""I was reading some of it today . . . and it all seems so obvious""). Humorless, talky, self-congratulatory--pretentious porn for devout Reichians only.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: New American Library