August 19, 1985 12:00 PM

by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

Eleanor, the heroine of this unpleasant New York novel, is a 40-year-old college teacher and writer. Her husband suffers “from the intermittent deafness of the long married.” They have two children, whom Eleanor threatens with horrible punishment. Her husband is totally passive, even when she has an affair with a 27-year-old student from China. Her mother and grandmother, both dead, talk to Eleanor, but she ignores them. It’s no wonder. They are as mean as everyone else in this story. Eleanor has two friends: Jane, a psychotherapist, and Gloria, a fellow teacher (one of the most awful human beings any writer ever thought up). Schaeffer, author of 1983’s The Madness of a Seduced Woman and a teacher at Brooklyn College, makes it hard to care about her silly, self-obsessed heroine in Mainland. May the saint of book reviewers forgive this mention of two great heroines, but Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary had the decency to die for their behavior; Schaeffer’s Eleanor inexplicably lives happily ever after. (Linden, $14.95)

You May Like