cover image Laura Rider's Masterpiece

Laura Rider's Masterpiece

Jane Hamilton, . . Grand Central, $22.99 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-446-53895-4

Oprah-anointed Hamilton once again takes readers to the Midwest, this time lacing her narrative with winning humor. Laura Rider and her husband, Charlie, live in Hartley, Wis., where they own and run Prairie Wind Farm. After 12 years of marriage, Laura decides to stop sleeping with Charlie, and although lovemaking is his “one superb talent,” she's convinced she's “used up her quota.” Also, Laura has a secret fantasy: to be an author. After she meets local public radio host Jenna Faroli, Laura decides to write a romance and encourages a flirtation between Charlie and Jenna, an experiment that she thinks will help her write her book. Their flirtation quickly slides into an affair, with Laura's sly interference. Laura, at once jealous and pleased, benefits from the inevitable chain of events, while Jenna isn't so lucky. Though the plotting is a bit predictable, the female characters are sharply observed and delineated, and the humorous tone will be an appealing surprise to Hamilton's readers. (Apr.)