Morrow, Jul 2003, 24.95, 226 pp.
Immigration attorney Lynn Bartlett's first marriage was a disaster. For approximately a decade, she avoided serious alliances though that made the nights lonely. Tech business executive Jackson Hughes is divorced also, but unlike Lynn he has two children, supposedly adults. Lynn and Jackson are perfect for each other and marry. They settle in Silicon Valley, which is ideal, as his company is near and she has a strong client base in the green card professionals who lost employment due to the downturn in dot.com
One year after they tie the knot, Lynn throws a fiftieth birthday party for her spouse. Though contented, she is not totally into the gala as she finds a Russian scientist more interesting than her husband. She also detests having his children around as they treat her like a fungus; even worse his son plans to move in with them. His first wife has made a martyred appearance that deserves an Oscar. Only her peers at the Anne Boleyn Society provide any relief for the beleaguered second wife.
THE SECRET LIVES OF SECOND WIVES is an amusing often-melancholy character study. Lynn and Jackson work on (or ignore) family issues that make them seem real. Her clients also add depth to Lynn's character. However, his children behave so blatantly and appallingly nasty towards Lynn, readers will wonder why Jackson fails to divorce the duo. His first wife is subtler in her tactics so that she comes across as a sneaky, nasty, but clever schemer. Catherine Todd provides a solid tale that could have been a great novel if she had created realistic antagonists.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner