Picks and Pans Review: How He Saved Her

updated 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Ellen Schwamm

A wealthy New York woman turns 40. Her successful husband, her doting father and vague mother, her two bright children who go to Amherst, her silly brother and his wife—all gather for a birthday dinner at a skyscraper's top-floor restaurant. At another table is her former psychiatrist, who is dining with another man. The woman falls in love with this man at first sight. She has everything, but feels that her loving husband uses her, and for her part, she has never really loved him. In this clever, sometimes mysterious novel, there is a possibility that the stranger she loves may be only a figment of her imagination—but he nevertheless makes it possible for her to assert herself and do things she would never do if he hadn't appeared in her life. The book deals movingly with what she calls "this immense grief about being a woman," The protagonist concludes, "I have no gift for life without a heaven, without a man. My father's fathers saw to that." How He Saved Her is the second novel by Schwamm, the wife of Harold Brodkey, a frequent contributor to the New Yorker. (Knopf, $13.95)

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