Wednesday, March 10, 2010

THE DOCTOR'S WIFE by Elizabeth Brundage

I gobbled this book up with relish. Somewhere buried in it is a statement against extreme fundamentalists who are willing to kill the abortionists to save the unborn fetuses, but it's such a page-turner that the creed of the crazies is not really a factor. The victims are not exactly blameless, either, although the only thing that Michael, an OB/GYN who moonlights at an abortion clinic, can be faulted for is his severe neglect of his family. His wife Annie, on the other hand, becomes involved with Simon, an artist and colleague, and is the real cause of the wrath that is brought down on her family, since Simon's delusional and demented wife Lydia is one of the extremists. This may not be great literature, but the frenetic pace, not to mention the sleazy motel sex scenes, kept me eager to resume reading it. Despite the title, I thought that the amazingly beautiful Lydia was the central figure. Simon became her guardian when she was 14 and married her when she was 19, and we know more about her past than about Annie's privileged upbringing. Simon gained fame and fortune, thanks to a series of paintings of the teenage Lydia. He manages to shield her from the general public until he lands a job as a professor in a small New England college. Lydia doesn't disappoint, as I held my breath when she is unleashed on Simon's educated and well-to-do friends. Lydia's hold on Simon, however, is somewhat of enigma, and I never quite got a grasp on their relationship. His affair with Annie belies his love for Lydia, but he continues to provide a smokescreen for Lydia's increasingly violent criminal activity. Perhaps he feels guilty for having profited from her total dependence on him.

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