Picks and Pans Review: Tender Offer

updated 06/15/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/15/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Alexandra Marshall

While this is Marshall's third book, she is probably best known as the wife of James (Mortal Friends) Carroll. She deserves better. This novel deals with the stubbornly interwoven threads of a middle-aged woman's business, family and love life. Phoebe Newcomb is 50, divorced and the mother of one son, one daughter and one fudge company, which is more in control and perhaps more loved than either of her human offspring. When a multinational corporation attempts to woo the stockholders of Phoebe's Fudge into a merger, Phoebe suspects that her son, "the living proof that she could fail," is siding with the enemy. Meanwhile a wealthy clothes designer who has long been in love with Phoebe has the financial means to save the business, but Phoebe, with her determined independence, fitfully doubts his motives. She is, says the author, "comfortable thinking the worst, against which she had always been a worthy adversary." Marshall's eclectic, insightful observations and wry humor spice what might easily have been just another bland modern woman-vs.-herself tale. (Knopf, $10.95)

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