FEMALE COMPLAINTS by Leslie Tonner

FEMALE COMPLAINTS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Tonner, who specializes in the domestic embroilments of N.Y.-Jewish families--from the stand-up-comic tick-off of the Jewish Princess in Nothing But the Best to the sociological drear of The Five Towns--now turns to the downswings, spurts, and wobbles of divorced middle-aged women in Manhattan. The chief complainer is Adrienne Ziegler, married for 13 years (to Barney, a tower of dull, who seemed to make a noise like ""kafloo"" during ho-hum sex), then divorced for twelve. And now Adrienne lives in a shoebox apartment with dying plants and an empty refrigerator, worrying about willful, selfish daughter Linda and lost son Billy (probably peddling hash somewhere in California). As for men these days, they're either kind and enervating or interesting and elusive. But Adrienne, partner in a small children's-wear operation, has a support system of women--some, like herself, middle-aged women ""to whom divorce would never be chic."" Over infinite lunches, talking ""men""--prospects, strategies, sex-performance analysis--the women keep up the ""constant stream of chatter, like the coursing of blood through their bodies, continuous, circular. . . always ending up where it started."" When Adrienne's affair with promising Leo (a self-serving creep, it turns out) ends, friends appear to bring bagels and run hot baths. And nice Ron isn't much better: he's one of those men victimized by his ex-wife and wretched with his inability to relate to his two adored but angry children. Eventually son Billy returns safely and does seem to find himself--but Linda, having divorced twice, is now having an affair with a father of two tots (the infuriated wife beams sizzling tirades on Adrienne's phone). And finally Adrienne tries to combat her intense loneliness in a group trip to Europe, finding that she'll be traveling through Europe--and possibly life--alone. Tormer has caught the inflections and idiom of the insular group mores here just right; so, though this takes itself rather too seriously for total entertainment pleasure, the in-crowd in question will find it funny, congenial, even touching.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1981
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row