Achieving the potential of her earlier novels ( Friends Along the Way , etc.), Markus's new book is assured, mature, unpredictable and inconclusive--in short, a lot like life. When she meets and falls in love with construction company owner Mario Picard, New York college professor and author Elaine Netherlands feels she has had ``a change of luck.'' In her 30s, Elaine knows that she and Mario are culturally dissimilar--he is French Canadian, lacks much formal education and has a drug-addicted past. Yet the physical attraction between them seems stronger than the obstacles to their relationship. As Elaine weathers its emotional vicissitudes, the rest of her life is on a roller coaster, too. Her ex-husband, Larry, a famous photographer, is dying of cancer; his daughter Nola, who once rejected her stepmother, asks Elaine's help in launching a career as a punk rock singer; Elaine's publisher has bungled the marketing of her first novel. (Her editor tells her, sadly, that it is too ``literary'' to succeed; the negative approach is proven wrong when the book gets a PW box. Ironic details about the publishing industry are right on target.) Markus expertly interpolates a timely and accurate picture of upper-middle-class America in the '80s: widespread addictions to alcohol and drugs, economic hard times, the specter of AIDS. Although the plotting is somewhat manipulative, this is, overall, an intelligent novel with convincing characterizations and a provocative effect. (Jan.)
Elaine Netherlands, novelist and former wife of a famous New York fashion photographer, is learning a few lessons about life. Having established a post-divorce independence, she finds her orderly existence thrown topsy-turvy when she takes a wrong turn en route to visit friends in Connecticut and impulsively buys an option on a townhouse. She meets a handsome contractor on site and falls in love. Concurrently, her stepdaughter comes back into her life with a request for money and her ex-husband becomes ill and seeks emotional support. Although Elaine had sought to get away from a traditional role in which females ``find their lives in others,'' she finds herself with many needy individuals in her life. She becomes involved with Anonymous Rooms (a self-help group modeled on AA) in an attempt to take care of her own needs while coping with the growing burdens placed on her by others. The story and issues are contemporary, and the protagonist triumphs in the end.-- Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.