IN A CERTAIN LIGHT by Karen Brownstein


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This latest novel by Brownstein (Memorial Day; Brainstorm: A Personal Story) is geared only to Dallas/Dynasty watchers, the kind of readers who like their fantasy pure, untouched by the complexities of what's real. The novel's heroine, Jennifer Roo, is the greatest problem-solver of all time. Although she has secret, black problems of her own, ""Jenny, Roo has the answers."" Jenny is super-mother, super-daughter, super-friend, super-writer, super-lover. Jenny is super, and any similarity to a real woman is purely coincidental. She is 34, divorced, a single parent coping with her precocious but adorable 11-year-old daughter, Rachel. And she is about to step up from being a very successful newspaper columnist la Ellen Goodman to becoming a TV commentator la Andy Rooney. But TV fame, Jenny feels, will surely bring down upon her the wrath of wife-beating, ex-husband, Paul, who is presently in California. It was Jenny's early success as a columnist, in contrast to Paul's unsuccess as a playwright, that initiated his punishing, bruising attacks on her. Further, this total villain once held baby Rachel out of a fourth-story window and threatened to drop her, an act that gave Jenny the courage to leave him. And now, from California, Paul has been sending articles clipped from newspapers about men who kidnap their children from mothers who have sole custody. In this problem-loaded and tidier-than-life novel, we have Jenny's crushing fear of Paul and her worry about Rachel's safety. We have the problem of Jenny's senile mother, Minna. We have the cherished, loyal, life-long friends, David and Nina Kalish, whose marriage may be ruined because Nina is unable to bear a child. We have also the by-now requisite younger lover, Jake. Lastly, we have--in ""the sad corner"" of Jenny's garage--the cartons of research material on wife-abuse that she has collected. Some day Jenny will find the courage to write articles exposing wife-abuse, to admit that she was once an abused wife, in the way that Betty Ford once owned up to alcoholism in order to help other women. She will do this when Rachel is old enough to understand it all, just before she walks off into the sunset with Jake. Brownstein knows how to pace a story; but, all in all, wife-abuse--a real and serious social problem--is a mere prop in this unreal, shallow novel. Well-intentioned, perhaps--but crude.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1985
Publisher: Putnam