Cover image for In the family way : an urban comedy
Title:
In the family way : an urban comedy
Author:
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow and Co., [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
325 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780688170714
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Roy, a psychotherapist, and his first wife, Bea, a caterer, are the characters around which this hilarious and unpredictable novel revolves. The other players include their four children, their assorted friends and lovers, as well as Roy's subsequent two wives, one of whom he steals from a patient. Not to mention Bea's lover--the Russian imigri superintendent--her lesbian artist sister, and her caustic mother, the landlady of the chaotic building. Throughout the novel, Bea and Roy struggle to redefine the idea of family without giving up the fantasy of endless self-gratification. Entanglements, betrayals, couplings, and uncouplings abound, as each person seeks love and happiness in the free-for-all '90s. Roy, a psychotherapist, and his first wife, Bea, a caterer, are the characters around which this hilarious and unpredictable novel revolves. The other players include their four children, their assorted friends and lovers, as well as Roy's subsequent two wives, one of whom he steals from a patient. Not to mention Bea's lover--the Russian imigri superintendent--her lesbian artist sister, and her caustic mother, the landlady of the chaotic building. Throughout the novel, Bea and Roy struggle to redefine the idea of family without giving up the fantasy of endless self-gratification. Entanglements, betrayals, couplings, and uncouplings abound, as each person seeks love and happiness in the free-for-all '90s.


Author Notes

Writer Lynne Sharon Schwartz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a B. A. from Barnard College, an M. A. from Bryn Mawr, and started work on a Ph.D. at New York University.

She chronicled her love of reading and the meaning it has had upon her life in a book called Ruined by Reading. She has published around twenty books including Rough Strife, which was nominated for a National Book Award and Leaving Brooklyn, which was nominated for the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She has also written for children in such books as The Four Questions, explaining the traditions of Passover. She is also an Italian translator and her translations include A Place to Live and Other Selected Essays by Natalia Ginzburg and Smoke over Birkenau by Liana Millu.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Baby boomers Roy, a psychotherapist, and his first wife, Bea, a caterer, are determined to have their families and divorce them, too. To that end, Bea has encouraged members of her family, their lovers, and their friends to live on various floors in the same apartment building on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Among those ensconced in the building are the owner, Bea's widowed mother, octogenarian Anna; Bea's sister, May, now the lover of Roy's ex-wife, Serena; Roy and his new (much younger) wife, Lisa; and Bea's longtime love interest, Dmitri, the building superintendent. Add to this mix the volatile relationships of the next generation--Bea and Roy's four children--and you end up with a fast-paced, hugely entertaining novel about a group of people unwilling to compromise on their hopes for happiness. Those looking for the emotional intensity of Schwartz's Disturbances in the Field (Harper, 1983) may be a bit disappointed by this novel, but most readers will adore Schwartz's witty commentary on family life in the 1990s. --Nancy Pearl


Publisher's Weekly Review

Schwartz breaks out of type in this hilarious chronicle of the lives and loves of an unusual "extended family" on New York's Upper West Side. The narrative takes on the flavor of a Woody Allen film or an intelligent sitcom as it exposes the unsettled morals and mores of sophisticated, liberal urbanites. Roy, a good-natured and hedonistic middle-aged psychotherapist, and his ex-wife Bea, a caterer who helps run the building her mother owns near Central Park West, head a formidable cast of characters who, while "all seeking happiness, naturally," occasionally transgress such social conventions as monogamy. Bea, who believes that "keeping the family together is more important than sexual jealousy," accepts almost any configuration brought about by the fulfillment of desire, as long as the parties involved remain close to her, preferably in apartments within her building. The relatives and lovers in Bea's circle include Roy's second wife, Serena, who becomes the lesbian lover of Bea's artist sister, May; youthful Lisa, Roy's third wife; Dmitri, an expatriate Russian who is Bea's lover and the building's superintendent; Bea's mother, Anna, a slightly senile but still randy widow; and Bea and Roy's four children (two from Roy's wartime liaison with a Vietnamese prostitute) and their romantic interests. Schwartz (Ruined by Reading; Leaving Brooklyn) masterfully orchestrates, providing enough outrageous situations and ironic twists to keep the reader chuckling appreciatively throughout. Roy, for instance, agrees to impregnate ex-wife Serena so that she and May can raise a child. Finally, Roy must ask himself whether he is at the center of his own cherished "harem," or whether he is just a link in the growing network of women and mothers surrounding him, the most powerful and taxed of whom is Bea, trying "to hold back entropy single-handed." Agent, Peter Matson. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Schwartz's latest novel provides insight into relationships and the concept of family in the 1990s. The story takes place in an apartment building on New York's Upper West Side and centers on Roy, a psychotherapist; his first wife, Bea, a caterer; and their quest to preserve family. Bea's mother is the landlady of the building, and the tenants include Bea's lesbian sister, Bea's Russian lover, the superintendent, and Roy's second and current wife. In an attempt to keep her four children and their father together, Bea convinces Roy and his new wife to reside in her mother's building. With everyone living under the same roof, you can't help but laugh at the entire situation. The dialog is in-your-face and intimate. Schwartz (The Fatigue Artist) successfully tells the story of people in search of love and sexual gratification through humor and short scenes that accurately portray relationships in contemporary society.ÄAmanda Fung, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.