Howard and Paulie Flax have not had a perfect marriage. Howard reluctantly agreed to marry Paulie when she discovered that she was pregnant. Later, Howard left the family for a time to live with another woman. Both of them have had to reconcile themselves to their failure to become artists, as they once dreamed. As their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary approaches, Paulie resolves to leave Howard and finally take control of her life. At the same time, Howard suffers a heart attack and Paulie’s plans are postponed.

Frightened by his brush with death, Howard wants to cling to the one truly good thing in his life--Paulie. Paulie, however, is disillusioned with her emotionally unsupportive husband and resentful of his tardy love. Their inevitable separation occurs, but it is complicated by other members of the family. It is their eldest son Jason whose actions, in an ironic case of “like father, like son,” trigger his parents’ renewal of love.

Though this is sometimes an engaging story, most of it is a predictable rendering of an old tale. Paulie’s metamorphosis from suburban housewife to independent city woman uncovers no new territory. Wolitzer offers a superficial depiction of a marriage incongruous with the artistic nature of her main characters. After twenty-five years together they seem not to have investigated anything beyond their physical passion--or lack of it. SILVER is a novel about the present, but the characters are a little out of date.