cover image Love in the Temperate Zone

Love in the Temperate Zone

Laurali Wright, L. R. Wright. Viking Books, $17.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81173-1

Wright, whose previous books include the Edgar-winning The Suspect, The Favorite and Neighbors, has written a curiously dispassionate tale of love, despite steamy sex scenes and a promising scenario. When Michelle Paparo, a sales rep for a Vancouver publishing house, finds a evidence of her husband's infidelity, her marriage is over. She buys a bookstore and meets an interesting man in a dog-obedience class, but their affair is booby-trapped by sexual secrets on both sides. Michelle's surly teenage daughter Lizzie holds most of the cards in this uneasy game, and when the plot skids to a halt with a maybe-happily-ever-after ending, readers may feel they haven't been given a chance to understand these characters. Casey Williams, the man with whom Michelle becomes involved, starts off as a charming but selfish jerk, and ends up as a charming but selfish jerk with promise. Michelle herself is maddeningly passive; the other characters, from Casey's thrice-divorced father who at age 74 is still trying to find himself to Michelle's mother, who cancels her own wedding at the last possible moment, are also drifting and unsure about love. Michelle's friend Alexandra, a bisexual, seems the most self-possessed, but she too is confused by an impossible romance with a married man. Michelle, typically, can't bring herself to mail the revealing letters she writes to Alexandra after a confusing sexual encounter and stays out of touch with her for years, all the while thinking of her as her best friend. This is writing in the temperate zone, and Wright ultimately tells too much and shows too little. 20,000 first printing; Literary Guild alternate. (January)