Although she nearly sabotages the novel in the first chapter, where she introduces her protagonist--self-destructive alcoholic Gwen, at her worst-- Diehl soon gets back on track in an increasingly resonant narrative that candidlycandidly ? describes the seductive lure and painful aftermath of alcoholism. Gwen has been drinking since she was a teenager, a legacy from her adored, alcoholic father, whose abandonment--first through chronic drunkenness, followed by divorce and his death soon after--have left Gwen emotionally burned out.too colloquial? . Alternating with flashback chapters that slowly unfold the grisly details of her father's decline, Gwen describes her slow rehabilitation through AA meetings, her work painting portraits of rich ladies' dogs, and her secret, passionate love affair with Jack, a science fiction writer and her sister's new father-in-law. Although physical union with Jack can almost blot out her feelings of guilt and despair, Gwen must face her responsibility for breaking up Jack's marriage. Diehl ( Men ) writes convincingly about both alcohol addiction and the joys of erotic love. While descriptions of Gwen's alienation sometimes become tedious, Diehl's insights into an alcoholic's roller-coaster personality are absorbing. Paperback rights to Pocket Books. (Mar.)
Alcoholism isn't pretty, and neither is the life of Gwendolyn, an artist searching for herself and the soul of her paintings in an empty wine glass. Her younger sister, Lucy, convinces her to give up a life of binges and hangovers in California and start fresh in New York. Gwen agrees to return in time for Lucy's wedding. At the wedding, Gwen chats with Lucy's new father-in-law, Jack, and is instantly attracted to his positive energy. After they become lovers, Gwen goes through a moving, although somewhat disjointed, exploration of her inner self, and she is finally able to come to terms with the sense of loss she experienced when her father died. In spite of a few macabre and unexplained points in the relationship between Jack and Gwen, the book is well written, thought provoking, and powerful.-- Heidi Schwartz, ``Business Interiors,'' Red Bank, N.J.