Robert Kiely

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 199

Susan Cheever's "Looking for Work" is very much like a certain kind of Hollywood film: brisk, bouncy, sharply focused, filled with primary colors and abrupt transitions.

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For any regular moviegoer, Susan Cheever's novel is easy to read. Nothing drags, nothing lingers, no one mopes. One imagines the heroine, Salley Gardens, bustling, regardless of her mood….

But Salley Gardens, alas, is not Rosalind Russell or even Katharine Hepburn. She is not funny, she is not eccentric and, despite Radcliffe, she does not give evidence of unusual intelligence. She has read Trollope and Stendhal and Yeats; but when she tries to think for herself, the result is less than dazzling: "The more you risk, the more you reap. The more you give, the more you get." All that can really be said for Salley Gardens is that she's thoroughly up to date. Her views of her parents, her marriage, her friends and lovers are so much in fashion that the cinematic narrative economy need not be disturbed. A few phrases and we know all the rest.

Robert Kiely, "Three Novels: 'Looking for Work'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 6, 1980, p. 10.

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