MY PASSIONATE MOTHER

Judy Feiffer, Author . Random $19.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6220-1

In Feiffer's slight fourth novel (after 1986's Flame ), an intriguing premise of interlocking love triangles succumbs to moist prose, underdeveloped characters and soap-opera dialogue. On the small Massachusetts island of Pequod, Joely Hurley awaits the arrival of the man she loves, Joe Hurley. Joe is the cousin of Joely's father, Finn Hurley; he was also the lover of Joely's mother, Claire. Finn and Joe were childhood best friends, and both fell for the hauntingly beautiful Claire. While she loved Finn as a friend, Claire was in love with Joe, but Joe wouldn't stand in the way of Finn's heart's desire. The standoff lasts until Finn suggests that he and Claire marry; after the wedding, Claire can take Joe as her not-so-secret lover. Everyone agrees this is the best they can do, so Finn and Claire settle down, running the island newspaper and raising daughter Joely. True to his word, Finn looks the other way when Claire runs off to be with Joe. But, unsurprisingly, happiness proves elusive for the trio. ("It's true, I'm greedy for love. And I could blame it on an unhappy childhood, but it's something more, something primal," Claire confesses to Joely. "One Claire wants domesticity, a husband and child, and the other Claire rages with passion. Oh, Joely, can you ever understand?") Since much of the action takes place before Joely was born, what begins as her personal recollection then alternates between first-person and third-person omniscient POV. Claire is a drama queen, Joely is a pale imitation of her, and Finn and Joe are, for the most part, unfortunate bystanders in Claire's emotional circus. An uplifting ending can't help this one float. (June 15)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-345-46902-1
Ebook - 90 pages - 978-0-345-48446-8
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