Nancy Thayer, Author . St. Martin's $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-27734-5

Women who like to read about other women's troubles will enjoy Thayer's 14th novel (after Three Women at the Water's Edge; An Act of Love; etc.), which features a novice family court judge confronting a family melodrama of her own. Just as Kelly McLeod is appointed to the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court bench, she meets and falls in love with a man whose life proves as complicated by past mistakes and present entanglements as her own. Randall Madison is battling his controlling soon-to-be ex-wife (a frigid registered nurse running for political office) for custody of their 12-year-old daughter, Tessa. Curious about her birth (she was born to a surrogate mother) and on the cusp of puberty, Tessa needs all the parenting she can get. Randall also must deal with his aging widowed father and a former lover who won't let him go quietly. Kelly is engaged to a wealthy lawyer she doesn't want to marry and must cope with her half-sister, a difficult teenager who is the daughter of Kelly's long-estranged, now-dead mother and the stepfather responsible for that estrangement. Thayer turns Kelly's easy-to-guess secret into the basis of an often engrossing tale, meticulously detailing along the way the web of court procedures developed to handle family conflicts and explaining how conflicts get resolved despite their uncomfortable fit with those procedures. Ingenuity at tackling first the court case and then Tessa's unhappy situation turns Kelly from a run-of-the-mill modern heroine into a model of negotiation. Thayer's view that motherhood requires eternal patience and parenthood an unending supply of time and money imbues the book with her trademark compassionate realism. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-8161-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-312-98498-4
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70324-0
Hardcover - 591 pages - 978-0-7862-3907-8
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-553-39100-8
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