Fern Michaels provides a variety of lively, sympathetic characters and turns a difficult subject into an intensely crafted and involving story about a complex, sometimes exasperating, never boring, archetypical pre-feminist woman. This one's a prime read!

Emily Wyatt Thorn receives two letters from Doctor Ian Thorn, the first a sentimental declaration of undying love on their wedding day, and the second on the morning the story opens. Alternately quelling her misery with the comfort of cigarettes and sticky buns, she postpones opening the present letter by remembering the past.

On her wedding day, Emily has already worked seven years for Ian. Her own hopes for higher education and children have been delayed, and will be again and again in favor of Ian's career. The long hours make their marriage drift into a distorted employer/employee relationship-almost one of master and slave. As she reads the letter from Ian which ends their marriage, she's forty, fat, feeling ugly but determined to change.

And that's just Part One. Emily's transformation begins in Part Two with Emily's Fitness Centers. She reclaims the skills for survival learned in years of struggle and attracts two new men. She now wants "bells and whistles" from a relationship, nothing like the past loneliness, and almost makes a more serious mistake than the one caused by her natural inclination for nurturing to the point of obsession.

(Apr., 512 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger