cover image The End of Men

The End of Men

Karen Rinaldi. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-256899-1

Isabel, Anna, Beth, and Maggie are women living in New York City, each at a pivotal crossroads. Isabel is pregnant and loves her husband, but still feels a deep pull towards an old friend. Anna is unhappy with her work-life balance, but can’t figure out how to make time to be more present for her husband and two young children. Beth is dealing with the slow decline of her ex-husband and father of her child, who is fighting the AIDS virus, as well as mysterious threats against her business that specializes in lingerie for pregnant and nursing women. And Maggie is realizing that her partner, who left his first wife after an affair with Maggie, is not the man she wants. The four women support one another throughout this year of transition, eventually creating their own versions of balance and contentment. Rinaldi’s debut is uneven, with some forced dialogue and excessive exposition that at times distracts from perceptive observations on modern motherhood and womanhood. Though each woman’s situation is interesting on its own, the opportunity for exploring the nuances of the relationships is lost with Rinaldi attempting to pack so many characters and story lines into one novel. An entertaining and insightful concept that suffers from rough execution. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June)