cover image Four Wives

Four Wives

Wendy Walker, . . St. Martin?s, $23.95 (354pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36771-8

A klatch of wealthy suburban women become deeply entangled in one another’s lives while planning a public health clinic benefit in Walker’s uninspired first novel. Housewife Janie is having a heated affair she can’t give up; lawyer Marie is trying to balance her law practice, family obligations and loafing husband when a hot summer intern arrives; heiress Gayle has turned to pills to numb her to the treatment of her abusive husband; and Love, a doctor’s wife, receives a letter from her estranged father that dredges up a painful past. As the women’s personal struggles invade their other, pedestrian pursuits, Love’s struggle with the demands of motherhood and family forces Marie, Janie and Gayle to get more involved in the lives of their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, Walker doesn’t do much to bring life to her typecast characters, and the narrative wobbles wildly as the subplots barrel toward a big revelation. The ending is mostly happy, which will please some, but the novel’s phoned-in feeling prevents readers from connecting with the characters. (Feb.)