Seasons of Sun & Rain

Marjorie Dorner, Author
Marjorie Dorner, Author Milkweed Editions $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-57131-027-9
Hardcover - 463 pages - 978-0-7862-2414-2
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-1-57131-033-0
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Dealing with several too many hot-button topics, this slightly dated and certainly gender-stereotyped novel about six college friends reuniting for a week's retreat at a Midwestern lodge has the outworn feel of a 1970s story. Jan, Linda, Sharon, Mary, Peg and Micky, St. Augustine College Class of '68, leave their daily lives for a week to celebrate (and rue) their 50th birthdays. As they talk about midlife, menopause and men, sadness permeates their joy at being together: Micky, the vivacious leader of the crew, has developed early onset Alzheimer's and is slipping from a state of distracted forgetfulness toward the chasm of the full-blown disease. Terrified that she'll become a burden to her husband and children, Micky wants to commit suicide--and has given her closest friend, Jan, this week to decide whether she will help. The women also disclose their feelings about childlessness, gay sons, sexual dissatisfaction, philandering husbands, aging parents and several affairs, but these matters are overshadowed by the pressure of Micky's request. Intent on covering all these bases, Dorner skimps on characterization. The reader is told, for example, that the women have in common their fierce intelligence, but little in their conversation substantiates this claim. In her first novelistic attempt outside the mystery genre (Nightmare), Dorner seems to have grasped the formula for commercial women's fiction, but her attempt to tackle too many issues makes it difficult for the reader to identify with her characters. (May)
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