Picks and Pans Review: Cupid & Diana

UPDATED 07/20/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/20/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Christina Bartolomeo

Asked to describe the man of her dreams, Diana Campanella, the style-conscious owner of a foundering vintage-clothing store, answers, "Someone who won't annoy the hell out of me." Harry, a recently separated lawyer with a scrappy manner, maintains: "My family was really disappointed when I left my wife. If they could have, they'd have kept her and divorced me."

Plainly these two witty, wounded thirtysomethings were made for each other. But there are a few hitches. Diana is engaged to Philip, a perfectly nice, perfectly unromantic blue-blooded lawyer who thinks they should marry because "it's the logical next step." And Harry's wife, a physician who shattered Harry's affection by cheating with another doctor, wants to give their marriage a second try.

Can Diana and Harry survive their guilt (hers Catholic, his Jewish) to make a go of it? From the moment when Diana sees in Harry "a person with whom I couldn't put a foot wrong," readers never doubt that this engaging confection will end happily. But Bartolomeo holds our interest with her wry prose and sharp sense of what makes her characters tick.

Some devices wear thin, particularly the recurrent descriptions of a TV soap opera plotline and of Diana's outfits. But even readers who sympathize with Philip's dry observation "not everyone remembers her whole life by what she was wearing, Diana" will find themselves rooting for romance. (Scribner, $22)

Bottom Line: Love story that's literate fun

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