Picks and Pans Review: Oh What a Paradise It Seems

updated 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/12/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by John Cheever

A wealthy old man, twice married and twice widowed, falls in love with a mysterious real estate saleswoman. He also wants to save a beautiful pond that has become polluted. All his money and the law cannot protect the pond from the venal politicians. Then an angry housewife succeeds with one crazed act. In the old man's small town near New York City live two women who hate each other; with Mafia help, the husband of one gets a job dumping rubbish into the pond. The other woman's family, after a splendid day at the beach, drive off and forget their baby on the side of a highway. This is Cheever's fifth novel and first since Falconer in 1977. (He's also published eight collections of short stories.) It is full of strange, nightmare-like stuff, rooted in our private fears and public concerns. Cheever is not only acute and funny, he is capable of writing astonishing sentences: "He seemed to know all about that mountainous city where there was no beauty and no coffee and where a homely waitress wiped a rubber plant's leaves with an untruthful newspaper." (Knopf, $10)

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