Kinship Theory

Hester Kaplan, Author Little Brown and Company $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-48211-0
HOriginally titled The Altruist, this debut novel from an accomplished short story writer asks questions that are as much ethical as emotional. What bonds tie mother to daughter? What justifies profound sacrifice, or that sacrifice's retraction? Kaplan explores these complex issues intimately and with extraordinary skill. Maggie Crown, 48, agrees to bear the child that her infertile daughter, Dale, desperately wants. Behind Maggie's decision lie decades of doubt about her own maternal performance: Dale interrupted Maggie's career as a scientific researcher and trapped her in a miserable marriage. Now divorced and independent at last, Maggie feels buried by the weight of her pregnancy as her daughter grows inexplicably distant. Midway through her pregnancy, Maggie falls into a relationship with her boss (and best friend's husband), Ben Wakem. Dale, who is having her own marital troubles, is unsympathetic and angry. The tangled situation grows knottier when Maggie gives birth to Lily, and Dale proves to be a careless, even dangerous mother. Maggie faces the wrenching possibility of withdrawing the greatest gift she has ever givenDand confronting the malice that hides behind her closeness to Dale. Although not far from ""Movie-of-the-Week"" fare in concept, Kaplan's novel is subtle in execution, yielding a nuanced insight into the treacherous but redemptive nature of maternal and romantic bonds. Agent, Jennifer Carlson. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 277 pages - 978-0-7043-4755-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-316-50426-3
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