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The Room-Mating Season Hardcover – April 14, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Jaffe, Rona
  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First edition (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525947132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525947134
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,213,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Looking for Mr. Right and loving Mr. Wrong brings three women together in friendships that last four decades in this by-the-numbers saga by veteran Jaffe (Class Reunion, etc.). She follows the lives of three women-Leigh, Cady and Vanessa-who meet as ingenues in New York City, fresh out of college in 1963. The trio, plus a fourth roommate, Susan, share an Upper East Side townhouse. Leigh aspires to become a casting agent, Cady teaches high school English and Vanessa is an airline stewardess (aka a "vending machine on legs"). Susan, a mousy, slightly eccentric receptionist with a desperate air, is disliked by the other three, who eventually ask her to leave (the last straw is a case of possibly contagious warts that the hapless Susan develops). But on the weekend Susan is supposed to move out, she dies in an apparent suicide. Her death casts an intermittent pall over the next 40 years as Cady and Leigh experience life-altering romances with married men while Vanessa's surprise pregnancy finds her heading to the altar. Jaffe speeds through these decades; her portraits of the women as adults are hurried and superficial, and world events get cursory, cliched treatment ("It was late winter of 1964.... It was, and would be, a year of change. The new hot group, the Beatles, was singing their innocent hit, `I Want to Hold Your Hand'"). The breezy romances keep the pages turning, but Jaffe's fans may feel that she's working on autopilot.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Jaffe, author of The Road Taken (2000) and After the Reunion (1985), presents another gentle, knowing, and compulsively readable coming-of-age story. The year is 1963, and college friends Leigh and Cady are determined to begin their adult lives amid the cosmopolitan social whirl of New York City. An ad for roommates brings two more young women into the circle: Vanessa, a sophisticated airline stewardess, and awkward, needy misfit Susan. Leigh, Cady, and Vanessa become fast friends, united by their success with men, their good looks, and their social savvy. But Susan's eccentricities grate on her roommates, and her clumsy bids for their attention ultimately end in tragedy. Jaffe traces the lives of her characters over the next four decades with wit and poignancy. Sensible, generous Leigh falls in love and ultimately achieves both domestic and career success. Worldly Vanessa finds herself trapped in a marriage of convenience and drifts into a series of infidelities. The inner lives of all of these women are compelling, but it's the impetuous, self-centered, and recklessly loving Cady who is the lifeblood of the whole story. Jaffe is wise and witty as ever, and her latest novel will delight her fans--and win her some new ones. Meredith Parets
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

The latest Jaffe novel is more of a disappointment then a joy.
Gwen Chabot Muir
Readers are hit at the end with a startling revelation that isn't really resolved, but is instead hurried into an ending.
Krisilou
Please, Miss Jaffe, let's get back to your real writing about real people we can relate to!!!!
Cathy Keane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dizziey on May 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Room-Mating Season" deals with four young women, Leigh, Cady, Vanessa and Susan, who all had very different personalities came together to share a room in New York City. They all hoped to be successful and each had a different vision of what "success" is. The book chronicled their lives from early twenties to when they were in their sixties. Leigh, was the rational, career-minded one who strived to be a casting agent while Cady was the romantic, spendrift and at times naive schoolteacher. Vanessa worked as a flight attendant and found the occupation suitable for her needs for adventure and meeting new people. Susan, was the odd one in their group in the sense that she was quiet, eccentric and never quite fit in with the rest. Soon, one event happened that changed their lives forever and the decisions that they would make in future would be based upon that particular event.
The theme of the book is friendship and how they were there for each other through highs and lows. The characters may not understood the decisions some of the decisions that were made but regardless, they were always there for each other. I really enjoy this book because it was written very well, very thoughtful and just mesmerizing. Rona Jaffe also tried to chronicle the lives and mentalities of women in each of the decades starting from the sixties. At the end of the book, you would feel that you really know each of the characters and feel for them. This is not a chick lit book but definitely one written for the female audience. I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Krisilou VINE VOICE on December 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jaffe's latest saga, The Room-Mating Season, has all of the makings of an exciting in-depth story. The story begins with four roommates in early 1960s New York City. Vanessa is a gorgeous flight attendant, Leigh is an aspiring casting agent, Cady is a teacher, and Susan is the misfit who annoys and aggravates the other three. All four of these young women are attempting to find their places in the world and are adapting to a changing society.
This in itself would have made a great novel. However, Jaffe takes us through these women's lives beyond the time spent in their rented brownstone. The decades fly by and there are so many unanswered questions that it's difficult to sympathize or really grasp what has happened in the lives of the characters. I would have liked to have known more about the intricacies and less about the broad pictures that Jaffe chooses to present.
There are pages and pages of seemingly unimportant information, and then...poof! Readers are hit at the end with a startling revelation that isn't really resolved, but is instead hurried into an ending.
All in all, this was a disappointment for me. However, I always enjoy Jaffe's perspective on changing women's roles, especially the sociological aspects of the early years of feminism. This novel would have been better had she stuck to this idea.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I did enjoy this book. Ms. Jaffe's writing style kept me eagerly turning pages. I was sad for Susan, happy for Leigh, and sorry for both Vanessa and Cady. But their personalities were set at the start of the story, and they didn't change very much over nearly forty years. And at the end I just said, "Well, that's it." I didn't feel like I'd witnessed anything special, just forty years in the three women's lives. Unlike some of the other readers who've posted reviews, I liked the surprise Ms. Jaffe threw in at the end. I don't want to say too much, but the memories these women kept alive for so many years would have been forgotten like last week's newspaper had things gone differently.
I guess I would have liked to have understood Vanessa better. She was such an enigma to me. How does a person become so empty? Cady, whom I felt was pitiful, was much better fleshed out. Leigh's life was too perfect for much space to be devoted to.
I'm not a fan of adultery, but I believe Ms. Jaffe was trying to make a point that some married men really do divorce their wives, while others string girlfriends along as long as they are allowed to.
But yes, I did enjoy this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cheer Mom on June 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I was much younger, I read the author's book "The Fame Game." At the time, I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read (probably because at 16, I hadn't read many really 'good' books). However, I continued to be a fan of Rona Jaffe's and read all of her subsequent books and was usually entertained with a good story and interesting characters.
Unfortunately, The Room-Mating Season is neither a good story nor does it have compelling characters.
By reading the synopsis, it seems that the book is about 4 girls coming of age in New York City in the early 60's and continuing with their lives through present day (a great premise). Actually, it is really about 3 of the women and one male friend. I found the lead female character, Cady Fineman, so pathetically needy, so filled with jealousy, so immature and unlikeable, that every time a chapter started about Cady, I wanted to skip it.
What amazed me about all of the women in this book is how they so blithely had affairs with married men - and not only were they married men, but they were also much, much older married men (20 years older than the girls). It seems to me like Rona Jaffe has a fixation with older men and younger women. (And thinking back to "The Fame Game" it was also about a much older man having affairs with very young women.) Does she have a father/daughter complex?
With the exception of Leigh, the most stable woman in the group, the other characters do not mature or grow wiser with age. They mourn the loss of their youth because they are not beautiful or desirable to men anymore.
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More About the Author

Rona Jaffe was the author of sixteen books, including Class Reunion, Family Secrets, The Road Taken, and The Room-Mating Season (2003). Her 1958 best-selling first novel, The Best of Everything, was reissued by Penguin in 2005, and The Other Woman, originally published in 1972, was reissued by William Morrow in 2014. She founded the Rona Jaffe Foundation in 1994, which presents a national literary award to promising female writers.

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