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Reichl combs through her dead mother's diaries and correspondence, trying to understand the woman she remembered as bitterly unhappy. She realizes how stifling were the expectations on 1950s housewives and how her mother blamed her depression on her inability to seek meaningful work outside the home. The revelations are fascinating, but Reichl's effort would have been better served by a professional narrator. While her deep, slightly hoarse voice conveys emotion sufficiently, she is an awkward reader, prone to loading her sentences with wooden emphasis and reaching for amateurish dramatic effect. Readers are likely to be struck by her ability to see her mother so clearly and without sentimentality, but they won't lose themselves in the reading. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 9). (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.