As far as her family and friends are concerned, Frieda has been the grieving widow for long enough. At 35, she's still (relatively) young, still (adequately) attractive. Her sex drive is very much alive; even Frieda admits she'd like to put it to use again. Besides, she has a son who certainly needs a father figure. With visions of the perfect second husband in mind, Frieda's sisters start to send eligible males in her direction. Big sister Ilene -- herself substantially married -- has found the ultimate unattached catch: a gorgeous, independently wealthy, successful, divorced father, pillar of society and paragon of potential. What more could a single mom ask for Apparently a lot more than loved ones realize. Frieda's own efforts bear very tasty fruit. Sam is young, talented, devoted, and incredibly sexy -- though broke, only sporadically employed, and clueless about kids. But he makes Frieda feel brand-spanking-new, in a most wonderfully wanton way. When all is said and done, does Frieda really need the "perfect man" ...
As hundreds of romantic comedies have driven home to us, familial matchmaking just doesn't work. And nobody knows it better than Frieda Schast. When the 30-something heroine of Frankel's latest girds up her proverbial loins to hit the dating scene again after the death of her beloved husband, Gregg, her sisters have strong ideas regarding suitable prospects. Ilene, the control-freak executive, is determined that Frieda will have the perfect mate (and father for her young son, Justin): handsome, devoted and above all, successful. Betty, an overweight, wisecracking bookstore clerk, thinks Frieda should put more effort into getting laid than in taking a trip down the aisle. Frieda has fallen for a (much) younger and somewhat feckless actor, Sam Hill, but Ilene sets her up with dashing corporate golden boy David-he's nice, he's responsible, who cares if there's no zing Meanwhile, Ilene is scrambling to resolve her own marital discord, and Betty has been taken on as a DIY improvement project by a charming temporary co-worker. It looks like chaos all around-and despite the feisty Schast sisters' regular summit meetings, nothing is turning out quite as it should. All of this should be charming, but tissue-thin characters and hackneyed plot twists drag the story down. Loyal fans will flock, but new readers will have to look to Frankel's backlist (The Accidental Virgin; Smart vs. Pretty; etc.) for fun and sparkly spring reading. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 20, 2004
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Excerpt from The Not-So-Perfect Man by Valerie Frankel
Thursday, September 5
"I've got the perfect man for you."
"Not another one," said Frieda Schast. "Is that why you came to Brooklyn? To give me the hard sell?"
Ilene, Frieda's older sister by three years, said, "You know I love coming out here. It's practically a trip to the country. I needed the fresh air."
"I'm not a cause," said Frieda.
"Just ... 'cause."
Ilene didn't have to explain further. It'd been a year and a month since Frieda's husband died. The day after the deathiversary, Ilene began fixing up Frieda with suitors she'd located, apparently under a rock somewhere.
Ilene said, "He's an entomologist."
"So you did find him under a rock," said Frieda.
The two women sat behind the counter at Frieda's frame store on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Ilene had taken the afternoon off work in Manhattan to make the visit. Despite her annoyance with the topic of conversation, Frieda was grateful for the company.
Frieda asked, "Does he twitch?"
Ilene said, "Not that I know of."
"The last one twitched."
"A tic is not a twitch," said Ilene.
"A tic is when someone tugs his ear if he's nervous, or twirls his hair. I'd even allow a tic to mean incessant blinking or handwringing. But the last one had full-body convulsions every two minutes. I thought I'd have to rush him to the hospital. Or that the force of his seizures would make his head fly off."
"Just as long as you're not exaggerating," said Ilene.