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Love and Houses

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For Meg Howe, it's just always been obvious, the connection between love and houses. A new marriage, for instance, is almost always followed by the purchase of a new house, and that same house is sold like yesterday's junk when the marriage collapses. Lately Meg has been thinking a lot about her theory of love and houses, specifically about how the first sure sign of a marriage in trouble is when the blessed couple start eyeing the real estate section, fantasizing about dream houses, or discussing home ...
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Overview

For Meg Howe, it's just always been obvious, the connection between love and houses. A new marriage, for instance, is almost always followed by the purchase of a new house, and that same house is sold like yesterday's junk when the marriage collapses. Lately Meg has been thinking a lot about her theory of love and houses, specifically about how the first sure sign of a marriage in trouble is when the blessed couple start eyeing the real estate section, fantasizing about dream houses, or discussing home improvements. She's also been thinking about that old expression, "If only walls could talk . . ." Meg knows exactly what those walls would say: first and always they'd say, Don't paper me in brocade, but they'd also say, Marry in a bad market, divorce in a good one. So what is Meg going to do when her own husband walks out, leaving her pregnant and with a mortgage on two different properties? Divorce has crossed her mind, but according to her lawyer she can not even afford a divorce. "I'm sorry," he explains, "I didn't want to tell you, it makes you sound so poor." Murder is another option. At moments she likes that idea very much, except that it doesn't seem quite right as she is about to have his child. Besides, the worst part of it is that she still loves the guy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Leimbach (Dying Young) serves up just the thing for readers who want fiction to supply the same level of emotional exploration and moral imagination they can get from watching a week of Seinfeld reruns. When novelist Meg Howe finds herself seven months pregnant and suddenly deserted by Andy, her Boston bookseller husband, her first thoughts are of real estate. She has, she freely admits, driven Andy away after he proved to be pathologically afraid of pregnancy and childbirth. So now she's left to deal with a potentially fatherless child and, most immediately, two mortgages-their now up-for-sale apartment and a newly purchased 18th-century former schoolhouse. Meanwhile, Meg's editor is pressing for delivery of her new book-a funny, anecdotal novel about marriage. The editor wants her to write more like his whiz-kid bestselling author, Theo Clarkson. Theo, who pens trendy romantic Waller-esque westerns, was once Meg's lover. He left her because Meg was then suffering writer's block ("I'm leaving you as a writer. As a person, I'll be there for you if you ever stop having block."). Now, however, Theo has returned-he's bought not just her apartment, but the entire house-and he's moving in. Against her better judgment, Meg finds herself helping him with renovations. And when she goes into labor, it's Theo, not Andy, at her side. In the end, it's real estate that helps Meg make her choice between the two. While Leimbach's latest is slowed by subplots involving Meg's best friends and their own travails with husbands and houses, the pace is rat-a-tat, and everybody is cheerfully manipulative and wittily sheathed in emotional Teflon. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Leimbach (Sun Dial Street, LJ 2/15/92) has written an entertaining diversion in the style of Laurie Colwin and Stephen McCauley that is like gossiping with an uncommonly witty friend. Meg, seven months pregnant, writes fiction; her husband, Andy, owns a bookstore and restores rare books as a hobby. With their apartment on the market and plans to restore an old schoolhouse in the works, Andy leaves. Meg is not really surprised, since Andy stood her up twice at the altar before they finally married. Miserable, she turns to her friends for company. She compares their marriages and love affairs to house hunting: when couples are in the early stages of love, they don't care where they live, but once they start fantasizing about the perfect dwelling, they're in a more settled and dull relationship. Meg is a wonderfully likable character, tossing off one-liners with aplomb, gleefully insulting annoying people, and somehow understanding her hapless husband's fear of commitment. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/96.]-Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
Leimbach bounces back from a disappointing second novel (Sun Dial Street, 1992) with this tart, witty tale of a very pregnant Boston novelist whose handsome, hopelessly neurotic husband abandons her in her seventh month.

"I always compare love and houses—there's something essentially the same about them," explains Meg Howe, our frazzled, 37-year-old narrator. "A new marriage is almost always followed by a new house and that same house is sold like old junk when the marriage collapses. . . . Want to know what walls would say if they could talk? Well, they'd say don't paper me in brocade, but they'd also say, Marry in a bad market, divorce in a good one." Meg, who has been left not only pregnant but holding a very large loan and living in an apartment she's unable to sell, knows what she's talking about. Though she realizes she should have anticipated husband Andy's dark-of-night disappearance (it took him five years of false starts finally to marry her), she can't quite accept the fact that he's really left. Humiliated, fat, unable to concentrate on the novel she's writing, Meg struggles through revenge fantasies, childbirth classes, and stoic attempts to resolve her real-estate crisis. Her two best friends, former college roommates, help keep her spirits up when not dealing with their own troubles. But a more effective distraction arrives in the form of charismatic Theo Clarkson, Meg's former boyfriend, now a disgustingly successful bestselling novelist, who buys the house Meg's apartment is in and enlists her help in refurbishing it. Theo also steps in heroically as Meg's birth coach. After baby Frances is born, Andy reappears, and Meg, flush with the power and joy of new motherhood, is in the enviable position of choosing which of two very attractive men will become her daughter's dad. In the romance department, at least, the market is very high.

Smart, sharp, and always entertaining. Leimbach exhibits a memorable comic voice.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684836706
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 3/11/1997
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.85 (h) x 1.07 (d)

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