From Publishers Weekly
A noted author of fiction (her 1970 Up the Sandbox was a landmark portrayal of women's motherhood and career conflicts) as well as nonfiction (Fruitful was a 1996 National Book Award finalist), Roiphe recalls growing up in a loveless household marked by petty bitterness and fueled by murderous rage. Outwardly, it was a world of privilege, endowed by the fortune of Israel Phillips, her maternal grandfather, the founder of the Phillips Van Heusen shirt company. The family's wealth attracted a tall, handsome husband for Israel's daughter Blanche, but the union was miserable. Anne's mother was prey to neurotic insecurities that were resistant to lifelong psychiatric counseling, and she became a chain-smoking semi-invalid. Like her philandering husband, Blanche displayed little interest in the children, who were consigned to the care of a stern German governess. In this surprising and gripping memoir, Roiphe unflinchingly describes her savage jealousy at the birth of her brother and the anger that always underlay their relationship. Her extended family circle included Roy Cohn, whose attempt to fix Anne up for a blind date with his colleague David Schine's younger brother provides one of the book's lighter moments. She describes with telling detail her passage to adulthood, but the story of her inner journeyAhow she managed to escape the destructive atmosphere of her home and become a celebrated novelist and criticA remains a puzzle. Nevertheless Roiphe's devastating memoir fully engages the reader in her painful story of hatred and betrayal.
While the nation was at war abroad, Roiphe, who was coming of age in 1940's New York City, saw her parents at war in their living room. Roiphe's evocative writing puts readers right in Apartment 8C, where a constant tension plays out between a disappointed and ineffectual mother, a philandering father who uses his wife's money to entertain other women, and a difficult brother.