Picks and Pans Review: The Old Girl

updated 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Joshua Gidding

The California setting with its swinging marinas and houses with tropical backyards is the best part of this first novel, which reads like a treatment for a Ruth Gordon movie. It's about the courtship and wedding of an 81-year-old grandmother. The prim old lady—no Auntie Mame eccentric—gets married in L.A.'s largest synagogue to a charming younger man, who then takes her away to happiness in Italy. Her son is an inept swinger with shady associates; a servant, who once worked for James Arness, has a taste for goose fat and a peculiar syntax that makes him the funniest character in the book. The novel's only flaw, unfortunately, is a major one: The narrator, a writer for a food magazine, is a tiresome prig, and too many scenes take place in restaurants where the food is terrible, the service deplorable and his impressions forgettable. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $12.95; paperback $5.95)

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