I absolutely loved this novel! It was a light read, but not a quick one. There is more than one main character and they are all a little complicated- emotionally. I love the time period the story took place in and I find the author, Rona Jaffe has a knack for depicting the 50's, 60's etc. I came to discover that she was wrote this book at the age of 72,two years before her death. A MUST READ!
The novel traces 3 roommates who lived together as young women in the 1960's. Their bond was deepened by the apparent suicide of their fourth roommate. Vanessa, a sensual air hostess, Cady, a pampered but awkward schoolteacher and Leigh, a secretary cum media mogul and Charlie, their apartment mascot live out the following 40 years in constant contact and occasional conflict.
When I was much younger, I read the author's book "The Fame Game." At the time, I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read (probably because at 16, I hadn't read many really 'good' books). However, I continued to be a fan of Rona Jaffe's and read all of her subsequent books and was usually entertained with a good story and interesting characters. Unfortunately, The Room-Mating Season is neither a good story nor does it have compelling characters.
By reading the synopsis, it seems that the book is about 4 girls coming of age in New York City in the early 60's and continuing with their lives through present day (a great premise). Actually, it is really about 3 of the women and one male friend. I found the lead female character, Cady Fineman, so pathetically needy, so filled with jealousy, so immature and unlikeable, that every time a chapter started about Cady, I wanted to skip it.
What amazed me about all of the women in this book is how they so blithely had affairs with married men - and not only were they married men, but they were also much, much older married men (20 years older than the girls). It seems to me like Rona Jaffe has a fixation with older men and younger women. (And thinking back to "The Fame Game" it was also about a much older man having affairs with very young women.) Does she have a father/daughter complex?
With the exception of Leigh, the most stable woman in the group, the other characters do not mature or grow wiser with age. They mourn the loss of their youth because they are not beautiful or desirable to men anymore. Cady ends up desperately trying to pick up younger men to have sex with and Vanessa, because she is no longer desirable to strangers in bars, decides to have an affair with the one man in her life who has always loved her (even though she has the depth of a pickle chip).
This book is so lightweight, it could fly away on a balloon.
This book can be read over the course of a weekend and if I had read this book as a 16 year old, I probably would have liked it. More mature readers however, will probably be disappointed.
For four young women, brought together by the impossibly small Upper East Side town house they share, it is a time of possibilities, of things to come. A time of newfound freedom, of careers their mothers never considered, of imagining lovers into husbands and families of their own.
Leigh, Cody, Vanessa and Susan. Although their dreams are different, they share secrets and fears, high spirits and higher hopes. But as the world around them changes, the decisions they make in that fateful year are challenged. Each on her own path, they will learn that friendship can shift in unexpected ways, that love is more complex than they imagined and that happiness is sometimes found where they least expect it.
four young women are brought toghether by the impossibly small Upper East Side town house they share, it is a time of possibilities, of things to come. a time of newfound freedom of careers, their mothers never considered, of imagining lovers into husbands and families of their own. A coming of age story!