Joy Ride

Barbara Howell, Author Viking Books $17.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-670-82653-7
Howell's ( Balancing Acts ) wickedly perceptive and entertaining novel about a manipulator who, for once, is out-manipulated--set in New York City where women become predators hunting down men--proves an unpredictable joy ride, as its title promises. The plot thrives on the tension between an unlikely duo: Madeleine Gibbons, conventional ``heart-of-gold'' housewife and mother of two, a transplanted Midwesterner and still-life painter--and her friend and betrayer, Joy Castleman, once a bestselling feminist novelist, now deep in debt, a money-minded narcissist fond of enemas and posh restaurants, whose feverish sex life with male and female lovers feeds her fictional fantasies of male brutality and domination. The story is narrated by Madeleine, whose slightly smug (yet catty) tone betrays a certain hollowness in her personal life, which she constantly compares to that of the friend she idolizes and scorns. Madeleine's slow coming-around to Joy's point of view--that all women end up as servants to men--makes for pat, preachy feminist sermonizing, but the romantic machinations point up the varied strategies women adopt to survive in a man's world. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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