(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

From Donald’s very first mention of her, gorgeous Adrienne punches Elise’s red alert buttons. The ex’s every trait—a Yale art history degree, a French background with its implied sophistication, a size two body—seems to perfectly parallel Elise’s insecurities. Surely, Elise concludes, Donald’s claim that now Adrienne is “just a friend” can’t be the whole story. Thus begins an obsession which rapidly veers out of control.

Elise’s midnight searches of Donald’s belongings and email escalate to anonymous calls to Adrienne’s office. When Adrienne announces that she, too, is moving to Washington, D.C., where the couple now lives, Elise’s inner alarm screams. She tries to play the gracious hostess in the other woman’s apartment hunt, and has the worst day of her life. Her closest friends are co-opted by Adrienne’s facade of charm. Elise even suffers the supreme indignity of having the ex choose a designer for her wedding dress.

Matters go from bad to worse. Like a cheating wife, Elise makes up fictitious classes and appointments after Adrienne moves to town, so she can stalk her supposed rival. The whole thing blows up in a nasty three-way confrontation. Miraculously, Donald and Elise’s relationship survives.

From Othello on, a host of literary works show unfounded jealousy as a destructive force. Her is definitely no Othello. Judging from Laura Zigman’s previous books, apparently it is meant to be a comedy. Some readers will find it funny, and certainly most women can sympathize with low-key worrying about the ex’s attractiveness. But given Elise’s constant whining about everything in her self-chosen life—boring Washington (as compared to marvelous New York City) her “gross” size six figure, her annoying friends, Donald’s dog—many others may miss the humor. After insulting non-New Yorkers, dog lovers, and all women larger than a size four dress, will a heroine still find readers from these groups to care about her misadventures?

The last few pages hint that a malign influence ratcheted up both Elise’s jealousy and her poor-me attitude. Unfortunately, the hint comes too late to make the story very funny or the protagonist likable.