cover image Doctors and Women

Doctors and Women

Susan Cheever. Random House Value Publishing, $3.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56437-0

Whether or not by design, Cheever here delivers her male and female characters in pairs, as though one were the ideal and the other the flawed human being. Oddly enough, it is these latter who are the focus of the story, suggesting that the author's sympathy lies with weak rather than admirable personalities. Bored with her lawyer husband, journalist Kate Weiss longs for a love affair. When she meets Macklin Rily, a humane, dedicated but emotionally volatile oncologist at a prestigious Manhattan hospital where her mother is being treated for cancer, she is determined to seduce him. But Macklin is also involved with Ann Lacey, the daughter of another cancer patient, a double breach of ethical conduct. Highpowered but charming businesswoman Ann is all the things that flyaway Kate, foolishly romantic and immature, is not. Kate comes off second best in the competition, but at least she belatedly realizes ""I don't know what I want; that's the trouble.'' Meanwhile, Macklin's troubled behavior has been contrasted with that of his counterpart, compassionate but highly efficient surgeon Peter Mallory. Her third novel (after Cage; she also wrote the nonfiction Home Before Dark demonstrates Cheever's increasing ability to manage plot and and characters. If the ending is somewhat disappointing, she has nonetheless touched on some timely and involving issues, while capturing the essence of hospital life and the heartbreaking limits of medical science. Troll Book Club main selection. (May 14)