FALLING UPHILL by Nan F. Salerno


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A gentle Midwestern small-town domestic comedy by the author of the Indian saga, Shaman's Daughter (1980)--a happy switch, since Salerno has a flair for likably homey capers. Vivian Fox, 38, wife/mom to increasingly uninterested Harry and horse-crazy teener Corinne, is a Winifred Mitty who grandly daydreams herself into assorted homes and gardens. (""She sat down at her desk, her sleeves falling gracefully back, took up a quill pen and dipped it into an old silver ink well. . . ."") And lately Vivian has, with parallel romantic excursions, started making her house-changing fantasies real. So, as bewildered but resigned Harry goes along with the moving-van follies, Vivian breezes into adultery. An affair with auctioneer/developer Marvel Gibson, large on bulldozing and plastic, means a move to a treeless ranch where Vivian sees herself among sectionals ""in a purple angel sleeve gown with a yellow watering can."" But when Marvel ceases to be one, along comes 25-year-old August, an infatuation which results in a move to a futuristic house with walls of glass, where Vivian, in long gowns, will ""pare red apples onto the white tile counter."" Meanwhile, Harry has been courting his young secretary Jenny, a truly terrifying cook, whose concoctions have their way with Harry's stomach before Harry can do likewise with Jenny. And, before Vivian's fantasies stop dealing in, real estate, a suddenly glamorous Corinne walks away with August; a dear aging bachelor, saved from eviction by Vivian, declares his Platonic adoration; a brace of mellowed hip types (the man ""speaks through an opening in his beard"") throw a calamitous party; and Harry almost loses his business as well as Vivian. Finally, then, it's back to real Home: a re-possession of Harry's family's farm. Some overdone jollies--e.g., a bungled July Fourth pageant--but in general, a pleasant, unpretentious diversion with some cinematic possibilities in all those set-changes.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Prentice-Hall