Picks and Pans Review: A Girl of Forty

updated 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Herbert Gold

Suki, the heroine of this glossy California novel, is blond, beautiful, desirable (she gives off all sorts of enticing odors) and playful in bed. She is divorced, has a teenage son and many male lovers. Among them is the mild-mannered narrator, a journalist-teacher who, for reasons that never become clear, seems to love Suki. She is stylish—and that is all she is. A PR woman for a wine-maker, she is also independent—indeed she has made a kind of religion of her freedom, and this predictably exacts a terrible toll before this story ends. Gold's novel about this bubblehead makes valid points about the consequences of refusing to deal with real life, but the sensational aspects seem both too familiar and too easy. There is a lack of grit in both the characters and the writing that prevents the book from generating any substantial emotional power. Gold, who lives in San Francisco, has written 15 other novels, including Salt, and five volumes of short stories and essays. He may have imposed too tough a task on himself, giving over his central role to a woman who is as shallow as Suki. It tends to make the whole novel seem superficial. (Fine, $16.95)

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