Picks and Pans Review: The Longings of Women

UPDATED 04/04/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/04/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Marge Piercy

It's hard to imagine what these three have in common. There's Leila Landsman, a middle-aged writer who finally divorces her philandering husband; Mary Burke, Leila's secretly homeless cleaning lady; and Becky Burgess, a middle-class housewife who convinces her teen lover to murder her husband. But in this absorbing novel, Piercy connects these disparate lives, finding that their needs and desires are remarkably similar.

The connections are precarious. (The way Leila finds Mary a home is a contrivance; ditto Leila's lesbian friend who serves as a kind of Greek chorus to criticize men.) But Piercy's sense of time and place are extraordinary.

Mary is particularly affecting, a woman who has been abandoned by her upper-middle-class husband and then by society. Like Becky (obviously based on Pamela Smart, the New Hampshire schoolteacher who persuaded her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990) and Leila, Mary is a powerful example of how women fight for their dignity in the most unspeakable circumstances.

To repeat that point while keeping the reader eagerly turning pages is Piercy's most notable achievement. (Fawcett, $22)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters