From Publishers Weekly
McHugh conjures up a beautiful epidemic for New York City in this reissue of his 1943 novel. A rare tropical virus has invaded the city, infecting its victims with a fever of happiness. They become relaxed, insouciant, prone to stay with their jobs (or their marriages) if they like them, to leave if they don't. Merchants offer free food and free booze; everyone offers free love. As New Yorkers revel in a small-town spirit of amiable fun, city officials, including the narrator, acting planning commissioner Jim Rowan, scramble to find a cure. Rowan also searches for his actress wife Niobe, who, struck by the virus, has left home and is hiding by convincingly impersonating characters around town, from a newspaper vendor to a Rockette. McHugh writes about New York in loving detail, from its infrastructure to such lost landmarks as the Astor bar, the Roxy and the Colony, evoking sharp nostalgia for Gotham in its glory days. But his bland, wisecracking tone soon palls, and he never quite communicates the soul of the city or the emotions of his characters. They remain period types, and despite its charming premise the novel remains a period piece.
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.