cover image The Way It Happens in Novels

The Way It Happens in Novels

Kathleen O'Connor. Ballantine Books, $15 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-345-35970-4

Through quirky imagination and sharp insight, the author of this fine first novel alchemizes an improbable situation into an engrossing, believable story. Cheryl Farrell Freedman is an overweight secretary who resents her job and spends her spare time reading romances to escape depression. But one day she meets Richard Olsen, an ex-football star who is now an invalid, and her life begins to resemble a romance novel, albeit one as seen through the looking glass. Richard is O'Connor's most memorable creation--a wily, manipulative tyrant who is redeemed by his intelligence, resourcefulness and ultimate humanity. In order to get out of the hospital, he decides to court Cheryl. An impetuous wedding follows and, through grit and a gradual appreciation of each other, they manage to turn their marriage of convenience into a love affair that helps both of them to blossom. As in Cheryl's favorite potboilers, true love brings happiness. And if it all ends a bit abruptly, in most ways this is a page-turner that will satisfy those who like some wisdom to leaven their romance. (Apr.)