cover image Donovan's Wife

Donovan's Wife

Tom Wicker / Author William Morrow & Company $22 (336p) ISBN 9

Former New York Times columnist and occasional novelist Wicker knows his Washington backward and forward, and that insider authenticity is the best thing this ambiguous novel has going for it. Victor Donovan is a smooth, opportunistic congressman who after years of empty mediocrity is suddenly galvanized by a cynical young media manipulator into running for a U.S. Senate seat against a distinguished but vulnerable incumbent. His lovely but dissatisfied wife, Josie, once nursed a passion for Milo Speed, a widely read columnist who has never lost his feelings for her. These are the chief ingredients in a book that cannot make up its mind whether it wants to be a satirical comedy, a realistic view of sound-byte politics today, or a tough yet sentimental love story. It is never entirely satisfactory in any aspect, although it strikes off plenty of sparks in its picture of the utter ruthlessness of TV campaigning. Part of the problem is that Wicker seems to disdain the electorate as much as he does the empty politicos who manipulate it, which makes for an ultimately depressing, if occasionally hilarious, read. (Oct.)