SWITCHEROO by Olivia Goldsmith


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More monumental high-concept from Goldsmith (Marrying Mom, 1996, etc.), this time in a wonderfully funny fable about a wife and mistress who reverse roles—and a husband who apparently can’t tell the difference. Sylvie Schiffer lives in happy domestic comfort with perfect husband Bob in a well-ordered colonial home in the plush Ohio suburb of Shaker Heights. There, Sylvie is surrounded by her perfect family (including her outspoken mother Mildred, who owns a ceramic store called Potz Bayou); she brews perfect cups of aromatic tea; she plays a perfect Steinway piano with an ebony lacquer finish; and in winter a fireplace fills her music room with the comforting scent of applewood. But not all is well in Sylvie’s middle-class paradise. She’s turning 40, her children are in college, and she wouldn’t mind some marital passion to take up residence in her empty nest. But Bob, whose greatest passion seems to be his BMW “Beautiful Baby,” hasn’t made love to her in months; instead, he’s found a delicious little number by the name of Marla (does Donald Trump live in vain?), who works as a reflexologist (with a little toe-sucking on the side) and who incidentally looks a lot like a younger version of Sylvie. When Sylvie discovers the resemblance, she hatches a plot to “switcheroo” with Marla’she’ll find out what it’s like to be loved by her husband again, and Marla can experience the joys of having a man of her very own and a kitchen with an island in the middle. In another of Goldsmith’s trademark transformations, Sylvie gets a face-life and tones up, while Marla eats banana-cream pies to fill out. It all culminates with a hilarious Thanksgiving when Marla, the non-wife, attempts to roast 28 frozen squabs. Contrived, yes, but hysterically funny—and after reflecting on the invisibility of women, the reader may find it no more contrived than, say, a Shakespearean comedy. (Film rights to New Line Cinema; $200,000 ad/promo; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-017568-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998


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