As far as I’m concerned, this novel by Katherine V. Forrest does not fall into the ‘light reading’ category. It’s a pretty intense story. Originally published in 1986. Dated? Maybe, but certainly in some cases unfortunately still current.
Paul and Carolyn Blake live a sluggish and bourgeois life. And Paul tries very hard to keep it that way. Also, he doesn’t like the fact that Carolyn accepts working hours, that require her to get up very early in the morning to go to work. He would rather see that she doesn’t work at all. He can provide for their basic needs with his successful job as a businessman.
Due to the different working hours, Carolyn meets their neighbor Val Hunter. Val secretly uses their swimming pool. Carolyn is curious about this striking woman, an artist, and allows her to use their pool. She and Paul make far too little use of it themselves. This creates a tentative friendship between the two women.
Val finds Carolyn to be a pretty bland type at first. Twice divorced, she tries to care for her son Neal on her own. She tries to provide for their necessities by selling her art. Val’s world of art fascinates Carolyn. And subsequently, Carolyn’s genuine fascination makes Val see that there is more to Carolyn Blake than she first thought.
Paul is eager to meet Carolyn’s new friend. He doesn’t like the fact that his young, impressionable wife hangs out with this ‘Amazon’. Well, the meeting goes all wrong. Val and Paul clash on all fronts. Paul feels threatened and Val thinks he’s a terrible guy who doesn’t seem very female-friendly.
Paul does everything to break up the friendship. Unfortunately for him, he achieves precisely the opposite. Carolyn and Val eventually even start a love affair. Something neither of them has ever experienced with a woman. Carolyn increasingly accepts that the safe life with Paul may not be what she wants or needs after all.
What I find special about this novel is that it is confrontational. Told from the perspective of Val, Carolyn and Paul. It makes it so clear to me that fear is really the root of all evil. Really, I felt so sorry for Carolyn. She was being used as a stake in the hatred between Paul and Val. However, Val quickly becomes aware of what she is doing. Paul unfortunately not.