Picks and Pans Review: Love Invents Us

updated 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Amy Bloom

People are not only made for each other; they're made by each other—so goes the premise of this lyrical but flawed first novel by Bloom, whose short-story collection Come to Me was nominated for a National Book Award in 1993. A shy and clumsy outcast at school, poor little rich girl Elizabeth Taube looks for love in all the wrong places—first with Mr. Klein, the local Long Island, N.Y., furrier who drapes her in mink and coos over her beauty, and then with her piano teacher Mr. Canetti. At 15, she begins what will become an on-and-off, decade-long affair with Max Stone, an unhappily married English teacher. She also falls for Huddie Lester, a basketball star with whom she has great sex, "giddy and harmlessly wild as bumper cars." Elizabeth narrates her couplings and goings up to middle-aged single motherhood, then abruptly stops. For all her confessions and heartache, she remains a distant character; the stories don't build upon one another, nor is her character made vivid. In the end, Bloom tries but fails to define her in relation to those she has loved and lost; Elizabeth is a frustratingly half-baked creation. (Random House, $21)

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