|Sue Margolis: Spin Cycle|
(Trade Paperback), ISBN 0-440-50923-8
Thirty-four-year-old Rachel Katz feels pretty satisfied with her life. She adores her 10-year-old son, Sam, and her relationship with her ex-husband remains civil, despite the fact that Joe left her for another man. She considers herself a comedian and performs frequently, but she also cleans homes to make ends meet. Her mother continually drops not-so-subtle hints about Rachel setting a date with her fiance, Adam. But a few things trouble Rachel -- Sam's fascination with Barbra Streisand for one, and her minimal sex life with Adam for another.
Adam, a dentist, goes to South Africa for a month to fill in for an uncle recovering from heart surgery. While cleaning the home of a pretentious artsy couple, Rachel meets Matt, a washing machine repairman. They hit it off immediately, and they get together a few times for lunch or coffee. The attraction between them heats everything up, and one evening she invites him over for dinner, and dessert turns out to be more than she planned. Feeling guilty at cheating on Adam, Rachel avoids Matt's calls, but eventually they hook up again, and she realizes that she really cares about him.
Meanwhile, Rachel faces stiff competition for a spot on a nationally televised comedy competition. This could be her big break, and she works her butt off preparing for it. However, a fellow comedian named Pitsy, whom most other performers consider a talentless rip-off, becomes determined to win the competition and will go to any length to do so. The night of the contest, Pitsy goes on before Rachel … using Rachel's material. Rachel panics, and Matt and Rachel's good friend Shelley haul her out of the building, refusing to let her perform and embarrass herself.
Crushed at the competition disaster and at being sacked from her cleaning job, things get even stickier for Rachel. She comes clean to Matt about Adam, and Matt storms out. Adam returns a few days later, but Rachel believes he cheated on her while he worked in South Africa. Rachel does her best to get everything straightened out.
Sue Margolis writes a hilarious and very steamy tale of romance and cutthroat competition. She also manages to weave excellent subplots in, such as Rachel's mother's possible affair and the pregnant Shelley's eccentricities. However, her characterizations veer from well-developed (Rachel, Shelley, Rachel's mother) to cardboard (Matt, Rachel's father, fellow comedian Lenny), and her writing occasionally becomes stilted. But the humor makes up for it most of the time.
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