Kelly Cherry, Author . Soho $24 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56947-323-8

Poet, translator and novelist Cherry (My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers) fashions a subtly sexy ménage à quatre for the postfeminist set, chronicling the fallout of a shattered romance. Divorced heart surgeon Tony Ferro dumps his lover, eminent women's studies scholar Ava Martel, for blond art historian Claire Buchanan. Ava decides it's time to stop playing nice. She is tired of living in "the darkened halls of sadness" and she wants a baby: if Tony won't sire it, then she figures that Boyd Buchanan, Claire's uxorious movie-producer husband, owes her one. She travels halfway across the country to present her reasoned case to Buchanan, who agrees to impregnate Ava, more as a bulwark against mortality than to hurt his wife. The novel moves swiftly between Claire's sumptuous home in the L.A. canyons, Tony's Chicago condo and Boyd's sprawling Santa Fe ranch. Cherry exhaustively probes the characters' motivations and intentions, relating them from all four points of view. The plot and anguished tone bear some similarity to Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier, which provides the novel's epigraph. But with its blandly glamorous characters (the women are beautiful and hold Ph.D.s; Tony is a stud who is "bedded down by all the lovely women") and rather implausible dramatic turns, Cherry's work reads like a movie treatment. Appropriately enough, it's a guilty pleasure. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Paperback - 273 pages - 978-1-56947-365-8
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