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Jesse Kornbluth

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Beach Read: 'The Widow Waltz' Is Slicker Than a Brazilian Wax Job

Posted: 06/17/2013 6:51 am

I know Sally Koslow slightly, and she knows my website a bit better, so she asked me to read and blurb her new novel.

I submitted this: "The Widow Waltz is slicker than a Brazilian wax job."

Her publisher declined to use it on the book or in its marketing. I'll guess at a reason: The Widow Waltz is being positioned as a chick lit summer read, and a lot of those readers are more likely to be sporting tankinis than Brazilian wax jobs.

Publishers are often wrong, but not this time. The Widow Waltz should be a hot book for women in sweat shirts on the rocky shores of Maine as well as for waxed women on Hampton beaches.

Consider: Georgia Waltz -- yes, the title does not refer to a dance, and yes, it is a groaner, and if I had edited the novel, it would not be the title -- lives on Central Park South. She's 50, and so well preserved she's spent not a penny on cosmetic surgery on her face or her "teacup breasts." Okay, so she's got a bit of an ass, but "women like a woman who has at least as much padding as they do."

Does Georgia have a husband? A husband-and-a-half, a stone fox. Ben Silver is sleek as Clooney, reliable as Hanks. He needs no Viagra or even Lipitor. And successful? In addition to the apartment overlooking the park, there's a house in the Hamptons big enough to shelter the homeless of a small city. But as he jogs around the reservoir Ben has a heart attack. And dies. A 29 year marriage, over, like that.

You know what is coming. It's as grim as the discovery Julie Metz makes after her real-life husband dies of a heart attack in Perfection -- the money's gone. All she's got left: furniture, silver, art, antiques, furs, jewelry... and her two daughters. The Hamptons house? Mortgaged to the hilt. The property she inherited? Sold last year. The cars? Leased.

Once Georgia taught English, then there were the kids. And the volunteer groups. She has not worked for a salary in decades.

Georgia has made every single mistake Judy Resnick warns women against in I'm On My Own, and So Are You: Financial Security for Women.

You know every beat of what lies ahead: Georgia questions her values. Georgia downsizes. Georgia finds out the truth about her husband. Georgia, who has slept with exactly one man in her entire life, must contemplate displaying those teacup breasts to another man.

Sigh.

And yet I devoured this book. Inhaled it greedily, as if I'd found a diary on Central Park South. At first, my pleasure was mean-spirited: with every passing day, I have less sympathy for mega-lawyers and bankers and their wives --- more often than not I look at the photos on New York Social Diary like they're of the 10 Most Wanted on post office bulletin boards.

But then there is the not small matter of Sally Koslow's skill as a writer. This is her fourth novel, and her pacing is impeccable. Great subplots with her daughters. Nifty detective work in the Hamptons. Awkward moments with the new man artfully executed.

I turn page after page, reading about women I do not wish to know well in real life. Then it's over. I stretch. A gin-and-tonic might be nice about now. And dinner at the kind of restaurant Ben used to take Georgia.

Did I ever hate such people? Perhaps. But now I know a few of them. Now, against all reason, I care.

[Cross-posted from HeadButler.com]

 
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