Picks and Pans Review: Five Women

updated 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Rona Jaffe

It was back in 1958 that a young Radcliffe grad named Rona Jaffe published The Best of Everything, that B-movie of a book about five women looking for love and career fulfillment among the louses of New York City in the late 1950s. Give or take a woman, give or take a decade, Jaffe has been using the same formula ever since. Five Women centers on Gara, a 50ish psychologist still reeling from a divorce and a mastectomy; Felicity, a beautiful black lawyer who has a wildly jealous husband and a passionate but manipulative married lover; Kathryn, "a chic, pretty, happy, bubbly redhead" who has three ex-husbands and enough money to indulge her taste for Chanel; an aggressive, egocentric, frustrated actress named Eve; and Billie, a once semifamous singer who now runs the restaurant where the other four women have their special nights out. Predictably and tediously, Jaffe limns her women's troubled girlhoods and their adult struggles with beastly men, bad memories, bulimia and, on occasion, the bust-up of everything. (Donald I. Fine, $24.95)

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