FIVE WOMEN by Rona Jaffe


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 Plot is not a crucial element in this latest from the prolific Jaffe (The Cousins, 1995, etc.). Here, an exploration of five women's lives is light on action, heavy on melodrama. Every so often four friends--psychologist Gara Whiteman; attorney Felicity Johnson; twice-divorced, former suburban housewife Kathryn Henry; and minor-league actress Eve Bader-- convene at Yellowbird, an Upper East Side restaurant/bar owned by onetime singing sensation and native Texan Billie Redmond. Each of the women has traveled a rocky path on her way to upper-middle- class (or higher) life in Manhattan; with the semi-regular meetings at Yellowbird the only device holding their stories together, each reveals her past, describes her present miseries and misfortunes, and, ultimately, moves on to a better and brighter future--thanks to a little (but not enough to connect the five stories adequately) help from their friends. Gara's longtime husband leaves her for another, much younger woman, and Gara is diagnosed with breast cancer. Felicity's husband is abusive--and her lover isn't much better. Kathryn is running from the many people who've hurt her in the past, including her alcoholic father and two undesirable husbands. And Eve, who's never made it big in Hollywood or on Broadway, is struggling with a daughter who's a star on screen and stage. In the meantime, Billie, after a series of hard knocks, has built Yellowbird into a success. Idiosyncratic as ever, she brings her young son to the bar every night, where's he's doted on by the patrons, including two transvestite regulars. More a series of character sketches than a novel, though the story nonetheless manages to charm, thanks to Jaffe's lively, distinctly drawn protagonists. (Literary Guild featured alternate selection)

Pub Date: July 30th, 1997
ISBN: 1-55611-505-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997


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