Reservations for Six

Lindsey Palmer. Wyatt-MacKenzie, $15.95 (302p) ISBN 978-1-954332-32-4

The witty if overheated latest from Palmer (Otherwise Engaged) follows three couples in western Massachusetts over the course of a year in which their marriages are tested. The six people are connected in a dizzying number of ways, which Palmer touches on in short chapters, and they are brought together for the birthday dinners they’ve been celebrating for years at an Italian restaurant. A cascade of events is set into motion when Nathan, an adjunct math professor who just turned 40, announces that he is leaving his wife for a student. As that scenario plays out, another couple deals with infertility, while the third decides to try out an open marriage arrangement. Palmer divides her attention among the six protagonists as well as Nathan’s new young lover, and in doing so reveals the challenges of marriage as well as the rewards. While the mounting crises pile up a bit high, particularly in the novel’s fraught home stretch, Palmer has a sure hand with her characters. Overall, this offers a shrewd but affectionate portrayal of marriage in middle age. Agent: Joëlle Delbourgo, Joëlle Delbourgo Assoc. (May)