Picks and Pans Review: Woman Wanted

updated 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Joanna McClelland Glass

What do women want? Here is one answer cloaked in the guise of a funny, fast-paced romantic novel. The heroine, Emma Riley, has just lost her handsome actor-husband to his gay director. Emma's only skill is typing, but she's reluctant to go back to her job as an office temp. So she takes a housekeeping job in New Haven as an excuse to leave Boston. Her new boss is a handsome physics prof at Yale; his son is a 23-year-old poet who behaves outrageously. The two are at war, and it is Emma's job—besides scrubbing the kitchen floor, shopping, mending, cooking and doing all the other household chores—to see if she can heal the ugly rift between the men. Her duties are complicated by both men falling in love with her, which is understandable since Emma is witty, can quote Shakespeare at the drop of a cue and has mesmerizing blue eyes. There are other lively characters, such as the cleaning woman, who thinks the water on her side of town is poisoned, and the young bride of another professor, who commits an awful breach of etiquette at a party. The physics professor's huge old house is a solid presence in this fine novel too. Emma extricates the young man from a disastrous elopement and goes to bed with the older one. Women readers in a sexist mood should find this book especially entertaining and satisfying: The two men, while attractive enough, are pretty inept, and it takes the love of a good woman to save them. The author, who lives in Guilford, Conn., has had several plays produced in New York—both on and off Broadway. (St. Martin's, $13.95)

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