ONLY THE BEST by Toby Stein

ONLY THE BEST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Charlotte Simons, still a Jewish American Princess at 39, is gorgeous, happily married to wealthy Howard, loving to daughter Nikki and son Ethan, devoted to 80-year-old papa Moe, active in the Long Island-area Hadassah. But, in the three months before Charlotte's posh 40th-birthday bash, all sorts of upsets occur. Ethan, 13, is going through a religious phase--sneaking off to Orthodox services instead of Reform, hating the non-traditional style of Passover which the Simons have always celebrated. Lonely papa Moe, who still lives in his fancy Long Island house, is inspiring neighbor complaints--because of his habit of inviting strange young women over to play board-games. (A nice widow will solve this problem.) Then there's Charlotte's photographer-brother Tommy, a longtime homosexual who arrives for a visit with a new girlfriend--but is really still devoted to writer-lover Serge (who also becomes a houseguest). But the heavy trouble begins when daughter Nikki's new college-friend Susie turns out to be--by super-gross coincidence--the daughter of Charlotte's first (brief) husband Stu, a sexual sadist whom she quickly divorced. Furthermore, Nikki and Susie are really half-sisters--because Charlotte was secretly already pregnant with Nikki (by Stu) when she married dear, unexciting Howard! Oh, my. Should Charlotte now reveal her 20-year secret to Howard? She must--only to discover that a) he knew all along about not being Nikki's dad, and b) that he was once unfaithful! So it's not surprising that Charlotte is ripe for a little infidelity herself: after much guilty hemming and hawing, she starts a panting affair with nice widower Malcolm (Howard has never turned her on), with ""kisses that lasted as long as it took to discover the mouth of the Nile."" And finally, after a final dollop of melodrama (ex-husband Stu, out in California, commits murder), Charlotte will return to Howard--with great marital sex all of a sudden, now that Charlotte (who has always been given everything) has ""learned to want"" from the Malcolm affair. Earnest, glossy suburbs-soap from the author of Getting Together and All the Time There Is--sillier than Norma Klein's concoction (above), but also a little more likable and varied.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Arbor House