Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
DAD AND THE KIDS VOTE FOR SEX
FOR EARLIER NOVELS LIKE SHINING Through, set partially in World War II Berlin, Susan Isaacs conducted assiduous research. But for After All These Years, set in an affluent suburban community very much like her home of Sands Point, N.Y., on Long Island, she says, "I didn't have to find out what people were wearing in the '40s. All I had to do was go out to lunch."
She did, however, conduct one experiment in vérité. For a scene in which her jilted heroine, Rosie, eludes the local police by vamoosing down a flexible metal ladder suspended from the bedroom window, Isaacs, 49, thought she would try the same maneuver from just such a ladder at her own second-story bedroom window. "I wanted more than my imagination," she says. "I wanted the physical sense of it—the cold metal clonking against the brick." The intrepid novelist stuck her head out the window, looked down and: "I suddenly saw how scary it was. Ultimately I didn't have the guts to climb down."
Isaacs showed her manuscript to her husband, attorney Elkan Abramowitz, 53 (who represented Woody Allen in his custody battle with Mia Farrow), and their children, Andrew, 23, and Betsy, 19, while the family was on vacation. In the novel, Rosie has a relationship with a man young enough to be her son. "In my first version," says Isaacs, "Rosie came close to having sex, but finally said no thanks. But my family thought it should be a done deal. I figured if my husband and kids give me permission to let Rosie go ahead, hey, why-should I stop her? So I made it more explicit."