A Cooler Climate

Zena Collier, Author British American Publishing $18.95 (199p) ISBN 978-0-945167-29-7
A provocative story of a conventional woman who suddenly loses her social identity and financial security, this quietly engrossing first novel tells of Iris Prue, 45, destitute after leaving her wealthy husband for a lover--who then abandons her--and settling for a quick but inequitable divorce. Iris's pampered past as wife, mother and hostess has ill prepared her for earning her own living, and as she fails at one job after another she focuses on the one field she has mastered: housekeeping. To the dismay of her friends and the horror of her daughter, Callie, a lawyer, Iris takes a job with Leo and Paula Tanner, a wealthy couple with theatrical connections, to be cook and maid in their home in Maine. Because Paula is demanding, cold and arrogant, Iris is initially uncertain and insecure. Soon she finds her chores manageable, however, and begins to make friends in the small community, gradually regaining her confidence and self-esteem. Then Paula suffers a crushing blow when her daughter runs off with an unscrupulous young man and Leo demands a divorce. She reaches out to Iris and the two women become tentative friends, but Iris fears she will lose her newfound independence if she immerses herself in Paula's problems. Collier, who has previously written children's books, offers no easy solutions here. The absorbing story is peopled by a cast of robust characters and moves to a shocking yet believable conclusion. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-58348-384-8
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