Having Everything

John L'Heureux, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $24 (224p) ISBN 978-0-87113-763-0
Boston psychiatrists and their loved ones nearly wreck one another's privileged lives in L'Heureux's witty but labored 14th novel. Philip Tate, 45, has just been appointed a prestigious Chair in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School. At first blush, Tate seems to have it all: he is a good-looking man of professional renown with a beautiful, urbane wife, Maggie, and two handsome, serious, over-achieving adult children, Cole and Emma. But it doesn't take long to see what's wrong with this picture: Maggie is frigid, unfulfilled and an alcoholic; passion and sympathy between her and Philip have all but disintegrated. Moreover, Philip has rediscovered his adolescent predilection for breaking into people's houses. When, after a disastrous department dinner, Philip sneaks into the sprawling home of Hal Kizer, an arrogant young psychiatrist with a very public interest in sex, and his gorgeous, unstable wife, Dixie, he sets off a calamitous set of events. Drunk and semiconscious, Dixie becomes enraptured with Philip's gentle manner, and they begin an affair. Meanwhile, Maggie is trying to finish the Ph.D. in English she abandoned to help Philip through medical school. Her bafflement and depression over new-style literary theory exacerbate her alcoholism and resentment. Philip attempts to restore balance by calling upon his esteemed sobriety and resolve. L'Heureux (The Handmaid of Desire) observes Philip and Maggie well enough, but neither the central couple, their offspring, nor their friends ever develop genuinely individuating inner lives. Some characters find redemption in art, one meets a cruel end, and others continue to battle expectations and propriety, armed with selective self-appraisals, therapy and good intentions. Their ineffectual attempts to escape their flaws fail to add momentum to this heavily ironic chronicle of professional success, inward misery, and middle-aged sexual guilt. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 45 pages - 978-0-8021-3732-6
Open Ebook - 45 pages - 978-1-55584-679-4
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