LOLLY by Judy Romberger


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Another child-custody drama--but with neither the naked melodrama of Kiss Mommy Goodbye nor the warm believability of Kramer vs. Kramer: free-associating narrator Lolly is too busy playing for hip, allusive laughs (few of them really worth the effort) to work up much sympathy or conviction. The proud new mother of a ""blended"" Southern California family, Lolly lives with second husband Reg and with their four kids by previous marriages (Lolly's girls Mouse and Jenna, Reg's Richie and Lynda); Lolly's ex-husband and Reg's ex-wife have both given up custody rights (they've taken up with younger lovers); and the second-time-around newlyweds have moved far from pampered Pasadena to consolidate their new family unit--on a ranch. But now Reg's ex-wife Bev has returned for ""her children""--and the struggle to keep the new family together, against the iron whim of flaky, philandering Bev, becomes Lolly's obsession. A kidnapping ensues, of course, followed by a madcap chase. And the novel's last section is devoted, Kramer vs. Kramer-style, to a courtroom drama--complete with mother-sympathizing, misjudging judge: Bev gets custody; but she'll probably give it up in favor of yet another new lover; so there's a sentimental fadeout as Lolly determines to keep Richie's and Lynda's bunks waiting for them. Unfortunately, however, Lolly is far too jumpy a heroine to focus much reader sympathy through the custody ordeal: relentlessly flip and seemingly unstable, she dishes out joint/jacuzzi/shrink West-coast chatter, fills us in on the super sex between her and Reg, drops constant references to movies (""Why can't this shrink be as wonderful as the woman therapist in An Unmarried Woman?""), muses on women's-lib and the strains of stepmothering. Too quirkily jokey for emotional involvement, never inspired in its comedy--a so-so hybrid with some intermittent, sharp-tongued amusement in a very familiar, West-Coast vein.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday