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A rich, beautiful, childless widow must choose between two gorgeous suitors and become her Own Person--in a genteel soap that surrounds a soggy center with some half-diverting, ritzy/artsy Manhattan backgrounds. Our 40-ish heroine is well-bred Jesamine Mallick, a Grace Kelly lookalike and sometime artist who's massively depressed, even suicidal, after the sudden death of protective, inhibiting husband Ed. Then, however, her art-patron chums introduce her to dark, handsome painter Severio Euzielli: ""she felt as though his energy were pouring into her being."" And soon she's buying daring dresses, declaring that she was brought up in a ""repressive environment,"" and--after many qualms--bedding down with Severio in his sexy Soho loft (""They thrashed about in a free, unifying gratification""). But though the sex is epic, the relationship soon frazzles: Jesa's boozy, children's-book-illustrator pal Sally (who'll dry out and wed a nice rich fellow) sees Severio for the ambitious, womanizing creep he is; one of Sev's teenage castoffs makes a vengeful scene; and--more important--Jes realizes how patronizing her new super-lover has always been (when he humiliates her at a party full of crude sorts). Lucky, then, that gentle soil researcher Josh, Jesa's Kris-Kristofferson-lookalike country-house neighbor, has been yearning in the wings all along: Jesa, who is now blooming artistically with a series of paintings ""about decay and rebirth and growth,"" will move permanently up to Connecticut, loving Josh but determined ""not to lose myself anymore."" A tired, weak-TV-movie scenario, and even Lee Remick couldn't spice up Jesa's terminal blandness. Still, Sally's a passable comic sidekick, there's a smile or two in the mild satire of crass art-buyers--and these are painlessly glossy suds, flat but harmless.

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's