Picks and Pans Review: Taking the Heat
It would be yet further evidence that the goods and talents of the world are inequitably distributed if internationally acclaimed flutist Eugenia Zukerman could write a novel fit to read. She can't.
Taking the Heat is as contrived and poorly paced a tale as one could hope to avoid. Its heroine is Nora Watterman, a, ahem, flutist, devoted wife and mother who, by dint of a wrong turn and an empty gas tank, becomes embroiled in a passionate love affair with a blond, leonine stranger named Theo.
Nora suffers the guilt indigenous to adultery, lying prolifically for the sake of her 17-year-old son, Nicky, and her TV producer husband, Bernie. When Bernie learns of the affair, there are tears and recriminations even though he, it turns out, hasn't been fanatical about his wedding vows either.
When Nora lets out the family dog and he's hit by a car. Bernie excoriates her for carelessness. When she gives the car keys to Nicky and he's killed—let's pile on the melodrama—by a truck, Nora tries suicide.
Can this life and this marriage be saved? Yes, after Nora spends some redemptive months in Poland, playing with an orchestra and learning about her mother, Elena, a Holocaust survivor who died when Nora was a child. Yes, after Nora returns from Poland and learns that her son's girlfriend has given birth to a baby girl, Elena.
Zukerman brings nothing new to this stew, and Nora and Bernie are barely more than blurs. Unsympathetic blurs at that. She is also far too fond of such tortured tropes as "I was able to gather details of Theo's life, bright bouquets of insight." And she overdoes what one might call rhetorical arpeggios: Linden Hill "was more than an estate. It was a home. A haven." "Sorry was not good enough, sorry did nothing. Sorry was no use at all." Enough is enough. Enough is too much. Enough is way too much. (Simon and Schuster, $18.95)
On Newsstands Now
- Brad's Devotion: The Inside Story
- Oklahoma Tornado: Heroic Rescues
- Michael Douglas on Catherine's Health
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine