September 02, 1991 12:00 PM

by Liz Nickles

Most of the world will feel small sympathy for Kate Harrison-Weil. Besides the hyphenated name, there’s a collection of antique silver tea strainers in her office; there’s her Fifth Avenue co-op with Chanel-laden closets and revoltingly expensive bed sheets (kept in an antique armoire); and there’s the name after the hyphen, that of her handsome, famous doctor husband.

But there’s a sadness at the heart of Harrison-Weil, founding editor of trendy Child-style magazine, and irony of ironies it is this: Though the nursery is nearly complete (there’s a problem with the hand-painted French tiles), Kate, 39, cannot conceive!

A funny novel about yuppie infertility? No one could accuse Nickles, a New York City ad exec and coauthor of Girls in High Places, of going for the tried and true. Yet against all odds, Baby, Baby succeeds, as both social commentary and rollicking comedy.

Adding to the central character’s stress are her evil stepchildren (one specializes in insider trading using secrets learned at boarding school) and her new job revamping Finance magazine. But things really get kicking when Kate splits from her husband, then discovers she is finally pregnant.

By chance she meets a clumsy yet sympathetic male sportscaster and tries pregnant dating. Meanwhile her stepchildren want her to sign a contract giving up the baby’s rights to their father’s money. And back at the office, a sneering male cabal plots against her with such original ploys as staging a dinner at a Japanese restaurant where she must try to gracefully lower her pregnant self to the floor.

There’s a wily intelligence here, as well as a formidable wit, and Nickles sustains the outlandish action. By the end, she has even won us over to Harrison-Weil—who finds love and happiness beyond $500 sheets. (Pocket, $18.95)

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