Sort of Rich

James Wilcox, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (278p) ISBN 978-0-06-016099-9
In Wilcox's stylish and leisurely cautionary tale, again set in Tula Springs, La. ( Miss Undine's Living Room ), a woman gives up everything for the man she adores, only to become a widow. A neurotic, well-heeled Manhattanite from an elite New England family, Gretchen seems an unlikely match for stolid Southern businessman Frank Dambar, but she convinces herself that in Tula Springs she can put her life in order and complete her book about U.S. imperialism in the Philippines, where she had been a Peace Corps worker. Instead, she comes into conflict with Frank's motley household, among whom are his busybody niece, an intellectual handyman who wears his hair in a ponytail and the buxom, loud-mouthed German housekeeper. Gretchen's confusion is revealed when she starts seeing a female therapist, then hires a potbellied young CPA to spy on Dr. Lakey. After her husband's sudden death, Gretchen slumps into a Valium-induced lethargy, and readers don't learn until the final pages whether she will snap out of a Southern idyll that was not meant to be. Wilcox's antic humor is less evident here than in his three previous novels, but it is an undercurrent to the pathos he evokes as he dissects the foibles of people who lead half-examined lives. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-06-091707-4
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-316-94044-3
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