From Publishers Weekly
Eldridge's first novel (after the collection Unkempt
) grinds its sparse plot into the ground by revisiting the same incidents over and over again from the points of view of six women. Joyce, one of New York's most successful and controversial art dealers, and Bobbie, a gynecologist who sometimes performs abortions, have been friends since college. But their friendship is sorely tested by the events of one long weekend when Bobbie's adopted daughter, Adela, arrives in New York to meet Paul, her mother's new boyfriend, and to reveal some secrets of her own. At the same time, new mother Lisa, one of Joyce's former assistants, helps her older sister, Lynne, after Lynne's teenage daughter, Jordan, goes to Bobbie for an abortion. The rotating first-person narration underscores the characters' profound narcissism, but the gaggle of voices becomes tiresome as it moves among the women's self-centered ruminations and justifications of their questionable behavior. The way Eldridge obscures the story's critical details until the waning pages feels manipulative, while how she repeatedly explores the periphery of a few key events is, at best, tedious. (June)
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Six women tell their interconnected stories, in their own voices. At first, the snippets come too quickly to keep track of the different characters, but as the book progresses, each character becomes clear and her story compelling. Joyce and Bobbie are lifelong best friends and dedicated professionals. Their friendship and Bobbie’s ob-gyn practice stand at the hub of the story’s wheel. When Bobbie’s daughter, Adela, confesses to an almost unforgivable transgression, the women must struggle to keep their friendship and their relationship with Adela. Meanwhile, perfect suburban mom Lynne’s facade is slowly cracking as her teenage daughter Jordan struggles with her own identity. Lynne’s once-wayward sister, now a new mom, ties the two plotlines together. Giving each woman her own voice has some mixed results. For example, Lynne and Lisa are clearly defined, but Jordan’s teenspeak quickly wears thin. Still, most readers will find someone to identify with in this perfect book-club read. --Marta Segal Block