August 11, 2003 12:00 PM

By Nina Solomon

Lifelong Manhattanite Grace Brookman tolerates her husband Laz’s periodic disappearances; he is a prize-winning journalist who works hard and keeps late hours. But at the start of this frothily good novel Laz casually walks out and doesn’t return.

Concealing her plight from her maid and friends, Grace concocts an elaborate lie that Laz never left. She leaves the dishes in the sink and the toilet seat up. Her ruses lead to plenty of funny moments, but there’s also a stirring meditation on independence and marriage. Grace realizes she’s been living Laz’s life, not hers, and rediscovers her interests in sculpting and writing. In the end, absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, just stronger. (Algonquin, $23.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Uplifting laughs

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