Monday, July 16, 2007

Review: The Room-Mating Season

The Room-Mating Season by Rona Jaffe
2 stars

Summary: The novel follows three women - Leigh, Cady, and Vanessa - who start out as room-mates in New York City in 1963. There was a fourth room-mate - mousy, annoying Susan, but on the weekend she was supposed to move out (the disgusting case of warts on her feet was the last straw), she dies from an apparent suicidal fall from the roof. Her death casts an intermittent pall over the next 40 years as Cady and Leigh have relationships with married men while Vanessa's unplanned pregnancy finds her heading unwillingly to the altar.

Why'd I pick it up? I'd read something about it and it sounded chick-litty and fun. So it was on my TBR list when I needed a J author for the Alphabet Challenge.

Overall: It wasn't really the light chick-lit romp I expected. Apart from Leigh, the women weren't very likeable and their lives seemed awful. Leigh was the only one who managed to have what I'd consider a happy life - her married man married her (so even her happy life has a stain on it) and she was able to have a career as a casting agent and be a mother, too. Vanessa loves her children but not her husband - she spends her marriage cheating, just so she can keep feeling desirable, which gets harder as she gets older. Cady spends 40 years trying to get her older, married lover Paul to marry her. I found her truly pathetic - she basically gave up her entire life for Paul. She also spent most of her life being bitter about Leigh's happy life, despite their friendship. And their male friend Charlie carries a torch for Vanessa for 40 years, so he's not happy, either. I enjoyed the 60's part at the beginning, the single-gals-in-New-York stuff. But these characters seemed to bring a lot of misery on themselves and not a lot else happened, apart from a semi-surprising twist at the end. Vanessa, Charlie, and Cady each get a little bit of happiness at the very end, but it took them 40 years to get there.


Anonymous said...

That sounds ever-so-vaguely like "Valley of the Dolls", what with the three women who started out as friends, and have largely unsuccessful love lives, only to find or not find a sliver of happiness in the end.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Now that you mention it, there is a bit of that, although without the glitziness and the pill-popping. But I confess, I actually have a soft spot for V of the D because it's so over the top and such a product of its time. Cheesy goodness. :)