November 18, 1996 12:00 PM

by Jill McCorkle

In her fifth novel, McCorkle waxes sexy and sensible. Widow Quee Purdy has just opened a quit-smoking clinic, the latest but least of her businesses. Quee, who has something of a goddess complex, is really out to fix the broken-down love lives of the forlorn crew around her—including a carpenter, a goddaughter, a policeman, a deejay’s wife—but that’s because she’s nursing an old, tragic heartache of her own. McCorkle, juggling several stories at once (she tosses in suicide, coma, even a murder victim in a load of topsoil), supplies the missing links by Moon’s end. After all, this is an author who has said she feels the need “to offer a satisfactory explanation” for the mystery of life. When her characters at last have found it, it’s quite sweet. (Algonquin, $19)

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