Rated of 5
I'll start by saying that I've lover other Jane Smiley books, which made this experience hard to understand. Honestly, if I hadn't been listening to it on tape, I doubt I would have made it past page 100. It is not that it is a bad premise or even a bad story, though it is absolutely predictable. A look at the kinds of greed endemic in the Reagan era has great potential. But the issue here is simply bad writing. By deciding to tell this in the first person form Ms. Smiley trips herself. Her main character, a New Jersey or Pennsylvania real estate agent name Joe Stratford (with little formal education), thinks and speaks like a female Ivy League English professor. This makes him so unbelievable as to destroy any flow the story may have and becomes laughable when Joe describes sex scenes or really any of his motivations. In addition, the characters that might be interesting, the gay couple "The Davids" or the possibly key villain "Jane" float in and out with little reason given for either their appearance or disappearance. The whole thing is disjointed and pointless, and considering the author's remarkable skills, baffling.