In her novel Looking Back
, New York Times
bestselling author Belva Plain poses the question, Can friendships forged during the idyllic years of college stand the test of time--and betrayal? Recent college graduates and former roommates, classy Cecile, brainy Norma, and ambitious Amanda find their lives intimately entwined when Amanda marries Norma's older brother, Larry, to escape the unrelenting poverty of her family and the total lack of opportunities in the small southern town where she grew up. But their lives will never be the same once Amanda begins a passionate affair with her father-in-law, the cold and commanding L.B. No one escapes unscathed after Amanda confesses all, including the identity of her son's father, at a party, and Norma attempts to boost her heartbroken brother's career at the expense of Cecile's architect husband. This is Belva Plain at her twisted best, providing a bird's-eye view of the sometimes murky lives of ordinary people. If you're looking for a happy ending tied up in a pretty bow, rather than the drama that average lives occasionally take on, Looking Back
and Belva Plain in general may not be for you. Loyal fans, however, will thrill to wallow once again in a world only Plain could create. --Alison Trinkle
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From Publishers Weekly
What begins as an engaging story about three college roommates brainy Norma, lovely Amanda, preppy Cecile and their differing futures takes a bewildering turn in Plain's latest domestic saga. When the three women graduate, Amanda, desperate to escape her lower-class background, marries Larry Balsan, Norma's brother, who is in the family real estate business. As Mrs. Balsan, she can shop to her heart's content, but she soon realizes she is not as happy as Cecile, who marries her college sweetheart, or even Norma, who is biding her time until she meets Mr. Right. So far so good, but the plot is thrown off kilter when Amanda and her aloof, widower father-in-law inexplicably tumble into an affair. The awkwardness of such a union bleeds into the prose, and Plain is unable to make the twist work there is no satisfying tension or electricity between Amanda and L.B., as he is known, so their passionate affair rings false. Plain (Fortune's Hand, etc.) compounds the problems with her plot by turning the steadfast Norma into a conniving schemer who, out of misguided loyalty to her brother, undermines Cecile's husband. The flowing story line, neatly resolved problems and intriguing exploration of family relationships that readers have come to expect from Plain are absent here.
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