cover image Hidden Pictures

Hidden Pictures

Meg Wolitzer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-395-36002-6

At age 22, Wolitzer made her debut in the critically praised novel Sleepwalking; her second book is another singular feat. Shifting unobtrusively from the viewpoint of each character, the narrative creates empathy for those involved in an unconventional situation. Although married to attractive, uxorious physician David Giovanni and mother to a baby she adores, Laura is inexplicably dissatisfied, relieved when David sadly consents to a divorce. Meeting Julia Price, Laura recognizes her own hitherto unsuspected lesbianism, and she enters into an affair that lasts until Julia ends it abruptly. Later, a permanent attachment to Jane Bloom means explaining to David and risking his demand for custody of their son Ian, now growing up in a household with the two women in an unsanctioned relationship. But David is gratifyingly agreeable, and Laura is able to find serenity and contentment. Although there is little real conflict in this novel, the characters Wolitzer brings to life with rare insight compel one's complete absorption. (May 14)