OUT OF EDEN by Kate Lehrer

OUT OF EDEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 From the author of When They Took Away the Man in the Moon (1993), etc., a strange novel about two society women who attempt to create a feminist utopia in turn-of-the-century Kansas. Lydia, an American in Paris, is immersed as the story begins in a cat-and-mouse romance with a shifty Lothario who mistakes her for one of the hordes of wealthy American girls sent to Europe to find titled husbands. Lydia, however, has little to offer: Her tiny fortune is being whittled away by the demands of Parisian society. Newly thrown into the marriage game is the headstrong Charlotte, and she too is indifferent to the prospect of marriage, which she interprets as servitude. After a series of broken hearts, familial and romantic, the two become fast friends (despite Lydia's pathological need to control Charlotte) and decide to become pioneers. In search of their ``essence,'' the two hope to escape the rigid class and social distinctions of an ostentatious society in favor of a simpler, more meaningful way of life. Or as Charlotte chirps: ``We can discover what it really means to be a woman and, in the process, liberate ourselves from other people's definitions. We can be free!'' So with trunkloads of enthusiasm, the two purchase land in Kansas, building two identical homes, connected by a walkway, christening their new world Twin House Farms. A quaint idea, though the charm dampens and they forget all about capturing their ``essence'' when confronted by the hardships of prairie life. Suspicious of a group of single women farmers (Charlotte and Lydia invite their circle of friends to join them) the townsfolk are understandably wary, especially since Lydia and Charlotte condescend at every turn. After years of hardship, the women are defeated thoroughly by both external and internal forces. Weighed down by heavy-handed and rather simplistic polemics, the already unappealing characters here have no chance of flying. A disappointing second novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-517-59956-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1996