EMMA’S TABLE by Philip Galanes


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Domestic diva, possibly patterned after actual ex-con celebrity, finds redemption through helping others.

Recently released from Federal prison after doing time for income-tax evasion, Emma Sutton is almost back on her game. Again making frequent appearances on Oprah as a decorating and cuisine consultant, she scours auction houses for the latest in luxe. Spying a Nakashima table perfect for her Park Avenue Xanadu, Emma orders her weekend assistant, moonlighting PS 431 social worker Benjamin, to bid on it for her. His weekday job poses thornier challenges: Obese third-grader Gracie is being picked on by playground bullies but refuses to turn them in. Benjamin finds Gracie’s svelte single mom alluring but suspects Tina may be deliberately dosing her daughter with junk food, although she insists that Gracie is on a strict diet. Meanwhile, Emma’s ex-husband Bobby has returned to her as mysteriously as he walked out decades before. However, across Central Park from her digs, Bobby keeps a secret pied-à-terre in which he squirrels away furniture and paintings Emma long ago banished as unstylish. Their daughter Cassy, desultory heiress-apparent to Mom’s enterprises, spends her nights clubbing and drugging, often waking up in strange ménages à trois. The adult principals seem to have all been sabotaged by parents who range from hypercritical (Emma’s father) to dismissive (Cassy’s father). Answering Benjamin’s cell phone when Tina calls to protest his allegations of child abuse, Emma decides to take Gracie’s weight problem in hand as only a famous lifestyle maven can.

Despite his gift for telling detail, rueful but compassionate insight and effortless imagery, Galanes's second effort Father’s Day (2004) falls flat; the resolution is simply too hurried and uncomplicated.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-155383-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2008


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