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The heart to pound. The appetite to go away. Romance, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Dante and Beatrice. Tristan and Isolde. Leopold and Loeb."" The romance that isn't if you're about 50 and a divorcee--not gay; free but not Liberated; one of those Women without Men or Parents without Partners. . . . Shelley List (Did You Love Daddy When I Was Born?, 1972) plays in the same league as Erica Jong or Sue Kaufman or any one of those Jewish-American-Queens who've learned the answers to the wrong questions. Mary Catherine, who left her husband Carlo after 23 years, went to a psychiatrist who told her to do some ""risk-taking,"" and now has had all kinds of sex with everyone from an Arab to a chiropodist who likes to perform frottage elsewhere and for a short time with carefully married Malcolm--""no endearments, no promises, no pain."" On the other hand there's her friend Deborah who ""wears her masochism like a mink stole,"" who drinks in between facials at Bendels, and who is now determined to make herself marry Sam with his paunch and his pate, Sam who calls her ""Debdear,"" Sam who's just so gross an option that on the occasion of their wedding she puts a cleaner's bag over her head and draws the string with dental floss. Deborah is the only one who can still make Mary Catherine cry. . . . The scene is anywhere you know in one of those Long Island suburbs in between fast commutes to what Manhattan has to offer--nothing this good by way of matinee entertainment. Shelley List manages to bring Mature Singledom home--with humor, observation, insight and an all too ""vincible"" sympathy. She'll make everybody read.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton