Five Women

Five Women

5.0 1
by Rona Jaffe

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Five stories from five unforgettable characters, brought to life by an author the Washington Post hailed as “contemporary…rewarding…masterful.”
Five friends meet weekly at a restaurant called Yellowbird on New York’s Upper East Side, revealing the long-hidden secrets of their pasts and how each, in her fashion,


Five stories from five unforgettable characters, brought to life by an author the Washington Post hailed as “contemporary…rewarding…masterful.”
Five friends meet weekly at a restaurant called Yellowbird on New York’s Upper East Side, revealing the long-hidden secrets of their pasts and how each, in her fashion, has become a survivor beyond all expectations.
The women are Gara, a divorced psychologist and cancer survivor; Felicity, a beautiful attorney married to a rich but controlling man; Kathryn, who is haunted by the brutality of her parents’ marriage; Eve, an unabashedly narcissistic actress; and Billie, a former rock star, now owner of Yellowbird.
Told with Jaffe’s signature liveliness and uncanny understanding of female friendship, Five Women invites us to the table to hear stories both familiar and unthinkable, stories of struggle, heartbreak, survival and redemption.
“Reading Rona Jaffe is like being presented with a Cartier watch: you know exactly what you’re getting and it’s exactly what you want.”—Cosmopolitan
“Vivid and trenchant…Wry and very readable…A minor genius.”—New York Times Book Review
“Jaffe has not lost her wit, her keen eye for human frailties and her ear for the small but telling remark.”—Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tracing the lives of five women over five decades, Jaffe takes another insightful look at female relationships, continuing the tradition she began in The Best of Everything. The women here are rather unlikely friends, since they come from different social and ethnic backgrounds and walks of life, but Jaffe makes their weekly meetings at a Manhattan restaurant credible. Born just before or after WWII, all have survived difficult childhoods in dysfunctional families and romantic and marital heartbreak as they struggle to achieve independence and serenity. One has endured breast cancer, a topic rendered here with rare authenticity and candor. Jaffe adroitly spins their stories in alternating chapters. A pro at this game, she writes smooth prose, builds character out of experience, keeps the action moving in soap-opera fashion and even manages some surprises. She also eschews giddy namedropping, instead establishing solid details of time and place. Perhaps her best character is the least sympathetic: obtuse, obnoxious actress Eve Bader, who has neither maternal instincts (she begrudges every minute and dollar she spends on her daughter) nor self-knowledge, but whose brassy personality dominates the pages. The other women offer a representative sampling of the social forces, familial pressures and personal goals that have influenced women over the past 50 years: a three-time divorce whose guilt about her past colors her future; a black literary lawyer who betrays her tyrannical husband as her own mother had betrayed her father; a clinical psychologist still smarting from the departure of her husband after 22 years of marriage; and a Janis Joplin-type singer who has fallen to the depths and climbed back. To her credit, Jaffe defies the conventional happy ending and leaves most of her characters with their lives still in flux. Literary Guild selection. (July)
Library Journal
Jaffe again delves into the lives and relationships of a select group of American women. She started down this road with The Best of Everything (1958), in which she detailed the experiences of young working women in New York City. Fourteen novels later, in this same city, we encounter a group of mid-life friends: Gara, a divorced psychologist and cancer survivor; beautiful black attorney Felicity, married to a rich but controlling man; Kathryn, haunted by the brutality of her parents' marriage; the unabashedly narcissistic actress, Eve; and former rock star Billie, owner of the bar where they meet weekly. Scrutiny into their pasts and presents offers lively if predictable reading. Jaffe's fans will be looking for this title in their public libraries.Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Kirkus Reviews
Plot is not a crucial element in this latest from the prolific Jaffe (The Cousins, 1995, etc.). Here, an exploration of five women's lives is light on action, heavy on melodrama.

Every so often four friends—psychologist Gara Whiteman; attorney Felicity Johnson; twice-divorced, former suburban housewife Kathryn Henry; and minor-league actress Eve Bader—convene at Yellowbird, an Upper East Side restaurant/bar owned by onetime singing sensation and native Texan Billie Redmond. Each of the women has traveled a rocky path on her way to upper-middle- class (or higher) life in Manhattan; with the semi-regular meetings at Yellowbird the only device holding their stories together, each reveals her past, describes her present miseries and misfortunes, and, ultimately, moves on to a better and brighter future—thanks to a little (but not enough to connect the five stories adequately) help from their friends. Gara's longtime husband leaves her for another, much younger woman, and Gara is diagnosed with breast cancer. Felicity's husband is abusive—and her lover isn't much better. Kathryn is running from the many people who've hurt her in the past, including her alcoholic father and two undesirable husbands. And Eve, who's never made it big in Hollywood or on Broadway, is struggling with a daughter who's a star on screen and stage. In the meantime, Billie, after a series of hard knocks, has built Yellowbird into a success. Idiosyncratic as ever, she brings her young son to the bar every night, where's he's doted on by the patrons, including two transvestite regulars.

More a series of character sketches than a novel, though the story nonetheless manages to charm, thanks to Jaffe's lively, distinctly drawn protagonists.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Meet the Author

Rona Jaffe (1931-2005) was the author of sixteen books, including the bestselling internationally acclaimed novels The Best of Everything, The Road Taken, The Cousins, Family Secrets, Mr. Right is Dead, Mazes and Monsters, The Last Chance, and Five Women, as well as the classic bestseller Class Reunion. She founded The Rona Jaffe Foundation, which presents annual awards to promising women writers of literary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Ms. Jaffe was a lifelong New Yorker.

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Five Women 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This floor has been unlocked for you to explore. It includes the cafeteria, the gym, and some classrooms.