Picks and Pans Review: Domestic Affairs

updated 08/24/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/24/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Joyce Maynard

Maynard often writes in her syndicated column about the chaotic joys of being a mother and wife, and this quaint collection brings those pieces together. Maynard achieved an early fame in 1972 when as a Yale freshman she published an article in the New York Times Magazine titled "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life." She did a year's studying at Yale before becoming a reporter at the Times. Eleven months later she quit that job to become a bride and have three babies. Her home and family became her beat. While this collection has great charm, Maynard does have a tendency to romanticize, overlooking the more painful aspects of such things as childbirth and journalism. Also irritating is her occasionally awkward writing. ("My first thought...was surprise at what a lot of older people had come.") Maynard can be pretentious too—she is self-aggrandizing about her very brief stint as a big-city reporter—but she is painfully honest and sometimes eloquent on the subjects that are closest to her heart: her kids and husband. (Of her son Willy, she writes, "He's a third child: the one I had no time to nurse after the fourth month. The one who got his milk unheated, straight from the refrigerator.") While at times the essays are repetitious, in an odd way the collective effect is comforting: It's a confirmation of the power of that mysterious and indestructible force known as maternal love. (Times Books, $17.95)

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