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GOLDBERG VARIATIONS by Susan Isaacs

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

By Susan Isaacs

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-0591-4
Publisher: Scribner

An aging entrepreneur invites her three grandchildren, whom she barely knows, for a weekend visit so she can choose which one will take over her company. 

None of the droll comedic touches Isaacs (As Husbands Go, 2010, etc.) is known for show up in her portrayal of Gloria Goldberg Garrison, who is founder and CEO of Glory, Inc., which sends trucks to smallish cities and towns to do mobile makeovers (a conceit that seems old hat given the rising tide of reality TV makeover shows). She started Glory years earlier after leaving her husband, Joe, in New York and moving to New Mexico with her sons, Travis, whom she adored, and Bradley, whom she barely tolerated. Both boys ended up back in New York. Travis has died, leaving behind a Puerto Rican Catholic widow and daughter. Despite Gloria’s continuing disdain, Bradley has become a successful businessman and happily married father of two. Gloria has had almost no contact with Bradley or her grandchildren, now all in their late 20s, for years. But at 79, having permanently alienated her heir apparent and former best friend by refusing to visit his dying partner, Gloria is looking for someone to whom she can pass on the reins. So she plans her weekend competition for the grandkids. But to Gloria’s consternation, all three decline her offer. Bradley’s daughter, Daisy, loves her career as a story editor, while his son, Matt, whose passion is sports, is in a committed relationship in Manhattan. Raquel is less satisfied with either her job as a Legal Aid lawyer or her love life. But initially, she turns down Gloria, too. Who wouldn’t? Gloria is not only unlikable, but unbearably boring. Her endless conversation is pretentious without one twinkle of wit. The grandkids are more likable, but equally dull. Few readers will follow them to the contrived, anticlimactic resolution.

A painfully long yawn.