Five stories from five unforgettable characters, brought to life by an author the Washington Post hailed as “contemporary…rewarding…masterful.”
Five friends meet weekly at a restaurant called Yellowbird on New York’s Upper East Side, revealing the long-hidden secrets of their pasts and how each, in her fashion, has become a survivor beyond all expectations.
The women are Gara, a divorced psychologist and cancer survivor; Felicity, a beautiful attorney married to a rich but controlling man; Kathryn, who is haunted by the brutality of her parents’ marriage; Eve, an unabashedly narcissistic actress; and Billie, a former rock star, now owner of Yellowbird.
Told with Jaffe’s signature liveliness and uncanny understanding of female friendship, Five Women invites us to the table to hear stories both familiar and unthinkable, stories of struggle, heartbreak, survival and redemption.
PRAISE FOR RONA JAFFE
“Reading Rona Jaffe is like being presented with a Cartier watch: you know exactly what you’re getting and it’s exactly what you want.”—Cosmopolitan
“Vivid and trenchant…Wry and very readable…A minor genius.”—New York Times Book Review
“Jaffe has not lost her wit, her keen eye for human frailties and her ear for the small but telling remark.”—Publishers Weekly
Tracing the lives of five women over five decades, Jaffe takes another insightful look at female relationships, continuing the tradition she began in The Best of Everything. The women here are rather unlikely friends, since they come from different social and ethnic backgrounds and walks of life, but Jaffe makes their weekly meetings at a Manhattan restaurant credible. Born just before or after WWII, all have survived difficult childhoods in dysfunctional families and romantic and marital heartbreak as they struggle to achieve independence and serenity. One has endured breast cancer, a topic rendered here with rare authenticity and candor. Jaffe adroitly spins their stories in alternating chapters. A pro at this game, she writes smooth prose, builds character out of experience, keeps the action moving in soap-opera fashion and even manages some surprises. She also eschews giddy namedropping, instead establishing solid details of time and place. Perhaps her best character is the least sympathetic: obtuse, obnoxious actress Eve Bader, who has neither maternal instincts (she begrudges every minute and dollar she spends on her daughter) nor self-knowledge, but whose brassy personality dominates the pages. The other women offer a representative sampling of the social forces, familial pressures and personal goals that have influenced women over the past 50 years: a three-time divorcee whose guilt about her past colors her future; a black literary lawyer who betrays her tyrannical husband as her own mother had betrayed her father; a clinical psychologist still smarting from the departure of her husband after 22 years of marriage; and a Janis Joplin-type singer who has fallen to the depths and climbed back. To her credit, Jaffe defies the conventional happy ending and leaves most of her characters with their lives still in flux. Literary Guild selection.