Jennifer Fever

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Through extensive interviewing of older men and women whose lives have been affected by Jennifer Fever and of the young women who play Jennifers, the author explores every aspect of the cultural phenomenon of the older man divorcing his wife of many years to run off with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Her interviews indicate that there is no single reason for this occurrence: It could be a frantic search for youthfulness when confronted with old age, it could be a finding of a shared interest, it could arise from boredom with the same mate for many years. The reasons are as diverse as the people interviewed.

Many of the interviewees are the former wives of celebrities, women who married their husbands before the men achieved fame, worked with them for years until they reached the top, then found themselves discarded when the celebrity husband married a young girl. These women face not only the bitterness of the divorce but also the humiliation of the scandal-sheet headlines that follow the new romance.

The older man-younger woman romance has its share of problems, as testified to by psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage counselors, and the men and women involved. The older men worry about their sexual performance, the young women worry about becoming young widows. The question of whether to have children is another critical issue. Gordon does a well-rounded job of presenting all the issues, but the “right answers” can only be read between the lines.