March 03, 1986 12:00 PM

by Nicholas Christopher

A first novel by a 35-year-old New York lyric poet, this is an old-fashioned, romantic and thoroughly enjoyable story about a self-obsessed concert pianist named Max Randal. In his world everything is extravagant. All the women are utterly gorgeous and talented: Randal’s first wife is a brilliant music critic; the spoiled heiress who was his mistress and is the mother of his only child is dazzling; his second wife is a jewelry maker and former model, and his current girlfriend is a writer. After four years off the concert stage, Randal, at 33, is going to try for a Carnegie Hall comeback, with three months to get ready. Then everything in his life seems to go wrong. His first wife is dying of a blood disease; the mother of his daughter dumps their child on him because she wants to travel all summer; he drops in on his second wife, who suggests they remarry; his best friend disappears, and the friend’s wife expects Max to find him. The climax, of course, comes with the much awaited concert, with ex-wife, family, friends, agent, critics and fans all expecting something sensational. Can Max deliver? Though the reference to his audience as a terrifying, roaring animal is a cliché, the scenes backstage and during the performance—indeed all the lavish musical details—are great fun. (Viking, $17.95)

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