VENUS ENVY by Rita Mae Brown


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 More frothy fun from the queen of southern sexual farce--this featuring a former debutante who comes out of the closet in gossipy, backstabbing Virginia. ``Dying's not so bad. At least I won't have to answer the telephone,'' remarks 35-year-old Mary Frazier Armstrong, who's lying in the hospital with a terminal case of lung cancer. A stressed-out art-gallery owner with brilliant business instincts and drop-dead looks, the well-born Virginian cares more about dying than she'll admit to others and--on what she believes to be her final night--scribbles half a dozen heartfelt messages to her nearest and, in some cases, dearest. The next morning Frazier learns that her diagnosis resulted from a computer error and that she suffers only from bronchitis--but the letters, in which she finally informed her loved ones that she was gay--have already gone to the post office and can't be retrieved. Happy to be alive but dreading the nasty backlash sure to come, Frazier has no choice but to brace herself for the catty remarks, social snubs, tears, and general lambasting that inevitably do come her way. Only Frazier's eccentric aunt, her stoic father, her loyal assistant, a bisexual friend, and, when not in his cups, her layabout brother stand up for Frazier while society's vultures circle to rip her to shreds. But Frazier's a survivor--and when the pressure grows too great, she simply escapes via a fantasy visit into a painting of Mount Olympus, to sport with the ancient, wiser goddesses and gods. Brown's story drapes thinly across a tiresome string of platitudes (``You are as sick as you are secret,'' ``Normal is the average of deviance,'' ``Death is like a punctuation mark, a period at the end of a sentence,'' etc.), but her sexual frankness and flippant humor are as refreshing as always. (First printing of 75,000)

Pub Date: April 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-553-09199-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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