Joanna’s Husband and David’s Wife

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Joanna marries David, she expects her life to be exciting and glamorous. He is a budding playwright whose quest for a stage and a producer consumes the early years of their life in one of New York’s more dismal garrets. She confides only to her journal how it feels to be immersed and subordinated totally in another’s life.

He works best at night, so she sleeps all day to be with him all night. He confesses to her horrified ears a prior marriage and only later reveals it as a hoax perpetrated to iron out a dramatic problem. He fills his lunch hours with beautiful women and still requires Joanna’s total attention. She is never able to hold down a job and relies on him for every dime and every link to the real world.

For years, enduring tiny successes and mammoth failures, they live a gypsy life, staying for a while with his mother and then heading to Hollywood for a screenwriting career. Luck brings them a berth as a husband-and-wife soap opera writing team, until he dumps her for a more important rewrite job. First one daughter is born, then another. Betrayal, death, and lost friendships alternate with brief periods of happiness and contentment. Both Joanna and David work very hard to nurture his puny talent.

Finally, by some miracle of stored energy, she begins secretly to write a novel. When he finds it, he dumps the pages into her bathtub screaming insults.

The book, however, is finished, sent to a...

(The entire section is 466 words.)