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SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND by Robert James Waller

SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND

By Robert James Waller

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1993
ISBN: 0-446-51653-8

 A second wafer-thin romance from the author of The Bridges of Madison County, the debut novel propelled by Wallermania onto the bestseller lists, where it still reigns supreme. A middle-aged man and woman (she's married, he's not) meet by chance in the Midwest and feel the earth move under their feet. Sound familiar? Far from burning his Bridges, Waller has repeated its premise. Why change a winning formula? And why tinker with your male lead when you've got him down pat? Like his prototype--Robert Kincaid, a restless free spirit who ``lived in strange, haunted places''--Michael Tillman ``lived in his own far places.'' Loner Kincaid's buddy was Harry, an old pickup truck; loner Tillman's buddy is the Shadow, an ancient motorbike. Kincaid was ``one of the last cowboys''; Tillman has traces of ``a hard-drinking, hard- cussing, nineteenth-century keelboatman.'' Yes, Tillman may be a tenured economics professor, but he is also the faculty rebel who roams the classroom barefoot as he teaches Boolean algebra and the Archimedean dilemma. When Jellie Braden (wife of prissy fellow- academic Jimmy Braden) walks into his life, she starts a hum inside him that will become ``a symphonic scream.'' After months of pussyfooting, they become lovers; two weeks later, needing ``space and time,'' Jellie decamps to India, where she lived in mysterious circumstances pre-Jimmy. Could she be reuniting with an Indian lover? Nothing daunted, Michael tracks Jellie down to a tiger reserve in the jungle (``Where else have men ever settled their affairs?...The warrior had come to fight for his woman''). Jellie does indeed have a Big Secret, but it doesn't impede the blissful reunion of the lovers or their return stateside, where Jimmy cheerfully moves out of their way. With its sliver of suspense, this is a marginally better product than the dreadful Bridges--slicker, not quite so soppy. It should make Waller's army of fans delirious. (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for November; First printing of 400,000+).