cover image Windfall


Maxine Paetro. Simon & Schuster, $19.45 (333pp) ISBN 978-0-671-69028-1

Such problems we should all have! is the thought that keeps recurring as one reads this richly detailed but uninvolving look at an upscale Manhattan couple. Harriet is a literary agent who inherits $7 million and a run-down castle on Long Island. Dean is a Wall Street stockbroker struggling to emerge from the shadow of his father's success. They've been dating for two years, and Harriet is ready for the nuptials. Dean's a nice guy who genuinely loves her, but he thinks Harriet is too middle-class for his WASP family and high-powered career. So although she hopes the renovation of her castle will climax with their wedding, the two grow estranged. Harriet's oft-mentioned quirky charm seems limited to her thrift-store taste in clothes and decor. And Dean is one of those men, draped in expensive suits and swanky suspenders, who cares deeply about leading his team to victory at the annual office ladder-toss contest. Paetro ( Babydreams ) lavishes attention on the surface of her characters without stinting on their interior lives; Harriet and Dean are reasonably appealing people. Even so, it's hard to sustain interest in a novel devoted to their tribulations. (Aug.)