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My Summer with George
     

My Summer with George

by Marilyn French
 

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In this new novel by the author of The Women's Room and Her Mother's Daughter, a hugely successful, middle-aged writer of romance novels encounters the possibility of romantic love in her own life.

Overview

In this new novel by the author of The Women's Room and Her Mother's Daughter, a hugely successful, middle-aged writer of romance novels encounters the possibility of romantic love in her own life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The passionate indignation and insight into women's lives that made French a household name in the 1970s, when The Women's Room issued a feminist manifesto, has dwindled to a few dim sparks here. French follows the daily summer routine and reminiscences of 60-ish Hermione Beldame, formerly Elsa Schutz, a wildly successful romance novelist who splits her time between her Fifth Avenue pad and a Sag Harbor house. Hermione is supposed to be a complex and sophisticated creature, but she comes across as self-absorbed and silly. The irony of her situation is lost on her: she writes about idealized romance and love but finds herself entangled in a ridiculous relationship with George Johnson, a dejected, potbellied newspaper editor from Louisville, whose volatile behavior veers between intense interest and bald rejection. Hermione convinces herself that she is in love with George because he is the opposite of a romance hero; actually, the guy is a drip and the romance takes place solely in Hermione's fantasies and awful articulations: "My heart leaped out of my body and flew to encompass him.'' While there is a certain poignancy in the dilemma of a worldly woman still yearning for her Prince Charming, the narrative comes alive only in the flashbacks to Hermione's youth in a poor household and her horrible marriage in the 1950s. But French tries the reader's patience before she gets to the gist of her message: that women of a certain age, raised on the "neurotic'' myth of romantic love and still active with erotic desire, are doomed to sexually starved decades as they lose their attractiveness to men. A romance novel has, at the very least, the good manners not to take itself seriously, but the simplistic My Summer with George presents itself as witty and wise. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The search for ideal love and its effect on women is the focus of the latest, somewhat disappointing, novel by the author of The Women's Room (LJ 10/15/77) and Her Mother's Daughter (LJ 10/15/87). Hermione Beldame is a successful, self-made woman in her sixties who, ironically, is an author of romance novels. She becomes enamored of George, whom she meets at a party. For much of one summer, Hermione talks with her many friends, trying to analyze and explain this relationship. French uses Hermione as the symbol of a generation of women who were raised on the myth of romantic love but were then disappointed. Unfortunately, George is a flat, uninteresting character, and French fails to convey any credible reason why such an intelligent woman would become obsessed with such a cretin. Purchase only where the author has a following. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/96.].Barbara E. Kemp, SUNY at Albany
Kirkus Reviews
The story of a sixtysomething woman's wished-for summer love affair—an affair that never quite comes to pass but does let author French (Our Father, 1994, etc.) enter a rich Alice Adamslike world of middle-aged social and romantic relationships, with verve.

Divorced, sophisticated, cynical Fifth Avenue romance writer Elsa Schutz—known to her readers as Hermione Beldame, author of 87 bestselling titles—meets a dashing, slightly younger, seductive southern man at a party given by her friends, the Altshulers, on their magnificent estate. George Johnson is a bright-eyed, sandy- haired newspaper editor, currently unmarried, whiling away the summer at Columbia University. The sight of George makes Hermione's "mind, or maybe my heart," stop, she admits—with lust and longing. Although she has been married four times (divorced twice, widowed twice) and has settled into a satisfying social whirl of concerts, plays, dinner parties, and foreign trips with her scores of accomplished women and married friends, most of them artists and writers, love is not yet through with Hermione, alas. At least when George asks her to lunch in the city, she begins furiously to fantasize that they'll spend the rest of their lives together. But George, unlike the characters in her books, is neither hero nor villain, exactly—he's "a master of mixed signals" who says he will call and doesn't, admires Hermione extravagantly and then never lays a finger on her. Finally, he goes home to Louisville. Meanwhile, stalwart Hermione has been remembering her girlhood and adolescence, sadly lacking in romance, and she's been discussing her feelings for her various husbands and George over fancy restaurant meals with her friends, many of whom have enlightening or hair-raising romantic stories of their own to tell. Thus Hermione learns to embrace a long and fairly triumphant life, while French tells us her opinion on everything from braised lamb shanks to the heart's undying longing for romantic love.

A modest pleasure.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345409652
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/14/1997
Pages:
243
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.70(d)

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