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The mother-in-law diaries : a novel
Carol Dawson
Adult Fiction DAWSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Candid, irreverent, funny and poignant, Dawson's fourth novel (after Dancing with the Minotaur) takes a fresh look at marriage and other social customs through the eyes of an engaging heroine. "Serial marriage is a kind of path, a continual fumbling toward love and commitment [and] honorable intimacy," concludes protagonist Lulu Penfield at the end of her "diaries," basically a long letter to her son, Treatie, who has just announced he is married. Lulu's attempt to instruct her son on the grave responsibilies of matrimony results in a soul-searching recital of her own four trips to the altar, the shortcomings of the men she wed and her relationships with their mothers. Her account, spanning from the 1970s to the present, becomes a trip through the sexual revolution as experienced by a woman from a middle-class Texas family whose traditional expectations are at odds with real life. LuluÄfeisty, restless and questingÄis an appealing narrator who readily admits her propensity to make the same romantic mistake each time. Mark Brune is her Dallas high-school sweetheart and lasting love; she marries grad student Ted Vonick on the rebound and lives in Austin. Subsequent marriages follow: to a biologist in Palo Alto, Calif.; to an artist with whom she lives in London and his native New Zealand; and to a Berkeley journalist and reluctant stepfather to Lulu's three boys. Poor Lulu tries to make each marriage work, but her intelligence and sharp eye for the foibles of her husbands and their mothers (each of whom is a real piece of work) does not grant her self-knowledge. It takes Lulu half a lifetime to understand important truths about human nature and to appreciate at least one of her former mothers-in-law for the "magnitude of her heart." When Lulu finally achieves insight about her sad marital record, it is to ruefully admit that she has been "acting out the paradigm for an entire culture." Meanwhile, the reader has bonded with an endearingly fallible heroine and traveled with her on a distinctive but also universal quest for happiness. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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