THE WAR OF THE ROSES by Warren Adler


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Although Adler (The Sunset Gang, Trans-Siberian Express) conspicuously highlights a message about the evils of material greed, this frenetic tooth-and-claw tale of a dreadful, divorcing couple who battle to the death (literally) is hard to take seriously; as black comedy, however, it certainly has its moments. Successful businessman Jonathan Rose and his lovely wife Barbara live--with their two children and nice au pair girl Ann--in a stunningly restored French-chateau-style house that is stuffed with exquisite antiques and offers a spectacular view; what's more, it's in the impeccable neighborhood of Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. Then, suddenly, lovely wife Barbara wants a divorce. ""It's not your fault,"" she tells Jonathan, but she's out of love, unfulfilled, and eager to begin her home catering business. Lawyers are hired; neither spouse will give up the house, and neither will move out. So, after an acrid Noël (Jonathan didn't fix the tree lights), Barbara just happens to spray Jonathan's orchids with extinguisher fluid, and then Jonathan more deliberately applies alien substances to Barbara's gourmet efforts for an important Embassy dinner. Similar light amusements follow--like subverting Barbara's culinary appliances (there's a scream of chopping, slicing, and general destruction) or lacing Jonathan and his beloved dog Benny with LSD. And then matters become more complex: Jonathan tips out the spying equipment with which Barbara hoped to catch Ann and Jonathan flagrante delicto; he puts Ex-kax in her catering-biz eclairs; she locks him in a blazing sauna; and ultimately things escalate to Caligula levels--with a ""reconciling"" feast featuring Benny patÉ and a House-of-Usher flaming finale. . . as the combatants perish, their greedy children scrambling for the leftovers. More Laurel & Hardy than John Updike--but readers with a taste for grisly farce in chic surroundings will find a certain nutty fascination here.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
ISBN: 1931304564
Publisher: Warner