cover image The Exact Image of Mother

The Exact Image of Mother

Patty Friedmann. Viking Books, $18.95 (227pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83491-4

A trio of eccentric women and the city of New Orleans come vividly alive in this diverting debut, an entertaining coming-of-age novel. In a voice quirky, irreverent and irresistible, heroine Darby Cooper takes the reader from her childhood to her adolescence--an adolescence that lasts a long time. At 30 Darby still is working through her anger at a narcissistic mother, who is too self-absorbed to give Darby the love she craves. She is angry at her grandmother for declining into senility just when Darby needs her most. Even her hometown contributes to Darby's alienation. Always having felt an outsider in largely Catholic New Orleans, Darby also is estranged from the small, wealthy Jewish community into which she was born. Listening to the ticking of her biological clock, Darby decides she wants a child and goes about fulfilling this desire in typically madcap fashion. Maternity makes Darby realize she must break with her own mother, leave New Orleans and finally grow up. Her original quirky voice never falters, imbuing this novel with a very Southern, rich and comic singularity. (Apr.)