Private Acts

Linda Gray Sexton, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-316-78203-6
Sexton's fourth novel (after Points of Light ) is a time capsule of a particular '80s lifestyle. Her anthropology is exact and explicit, a veritable guidebook to the habits of certain members of the upper middle class: their favored occupations, how they dress, what they eat and in which restaurants, how they furnish their homes and raise their children, what games they play. The problem is, however, that here sociological detail determines character. At their best, the yuppie protagonists are self-centered; at their worst, they are exemplars of greed and amorality. We meet two couples on Sy and Maggie Whitten's Westchester, N.Y., tennis court. Sy is an investment banker; Maggie, former editor at Esquire , has taken a sabbatical to raise their two children. Alexis, Maggie's best friend, is a mergers-and-acquisitions shark, and Nicholas, her husband and Sy's best friend, has transformed his father's store into a megachain. Bored by the tedium of housewifery, Maggie resents Sy's frequent absence on business trips. Alexis is tired of Nicholas. Predictably, both marriages crumble as the characters change partners and play more tennis. Although she never mitigates her characters' foibles, Sexton portrays them with mordant skill, capturing their thoughts and voices in serve-return dialogue that reflects the stresses of their fast-track lives. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-36328-0
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