The further adventures of a tightly wound Manhattan businesswoman and her infuriatingly easygoing father.
Brett apparently has a strong following in her native Australia, but it may not be so for much longer if she keeps moving her characters to New York. Her heroine, Ruth Rothwax, is an Aussie woman of Polish-Jewish descent—her father is an Auschwitz survivor—now relocated to Manhattan, where she runs a thriving letter-writing and greeting-card business. In Too Many Men (2001), Ruth brought her father Edek back to Poland, where she spent the whole time fretting about why he wasn’t more upset by revisiting that den of anti-Semitism; there were times when Edek’s Auschwitz experience seemed to bother Ruth more than it did him. Now Edek has moved to New York and is working in Ruth’s office, where he quickly drives her crazy with his constant scheming and enthusiastic over-ordering of supplies. Ruth’s agitation hits stratospheric heights, though, when Zofia and Walentyna, a pair of widows whom the two had become friendly with in Poland (Zofia and Edek getting more than friendly), show up in New York to live with Edek, and get Green Cards, and in the process manage to bring out all of Ruth’s cattiest tendencies. The irony of the situation is that even as Ruth is railing against Zofia and Walentyna, she is attempting to start a womens’ discussion group the primary purpose of which is to combat such tendencies. Given that much of Brett’s narrative is a headache-inducing ride through Ruth’s encyclopedic array of neuroses—this is a woman who brings steamed vegetables in a Ziploc bag to restaurants—it’s a relief when Edek and his widows (a chaotically appealing trio) announce to Ruth that they want to open a restaurant and need just a smidge of funding. This is a faster, leaner work than Brett’s previous effort. If only the author could find her other characters as interesting as she does Ruth.
Light and life-affirming fare about letting go of worry and embracing uncertainty.