cover image Satisfaction


Gillian Greenwood, . . Crown/Shaye Areheart, $24 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-307-35138-8

A breezy, melancholic humor graces British author Greenwood's debut novel. The narrative travels back and forth between 2004, when Amy Marsham, who claims to be suffering from "an excess of happiness," visits a shrink named Patrick McIlhenny, and a decade earlier, when Amy is struggling with ambivalence about her unexpected pregnancy; her husband, James; his best friend, Archie (whom Amy has a possibly innocent crush on); her twin sister, Thea; and her general sense of dissatisfaction. Although the visits to Patrick at first seem like contrived interruptions in the main narrative, it soon becomes clear that he also played a role in 1994, when James, suffering from anxiety attacks, seeks Patrick's help. Archie, meanwhile, approaches his 40th birthday with his business floundering, his girlfriend dumping him, and a possible malignant tumor. Amy contemplates her attraction to Archie and her desire to do something with her life. Thea, a Hollywood media attorney, returns to London, forcing Amy to deal with their rivalry. As the story advances, the reader is treated to a confidently wrought if sometimes tedious collage of modulating friendships and romantic relationships among a set of 30-somethings with long shared histories. Though not all pieces of the mosaic are equally impressive, the bigger picture is worth looking at. (June)