Picks and Pans Review: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons

updated 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/12/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Lorna Landvik

What stay-at-home mom wouldn't want to live in a subdivision where the neighbors are her best friends, always ready to lend a sympathetic ear or show up with a gun to threaten an abusive husband? That's life for Landvik's gang of Minnesota women, who meet for a nighttime snowball fight in the 1960s and forge a lifetime bond. The five wives are pretty one-dimensional, but what keeps the story aloft are Landvik's breezy dialogue and indelible sense of place. Less convincing are the gals' book group and the melodramatic letters one wife writes to her late mother; both of these setups are clumsy attempts to further a story as stale and predictable as a humid Midwestern summer. (Ballantine, $23.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Tasty, but empty calories

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