Laura Rider's Masterpiece
Grand Central, Apr 2009, $22.99
In Hartley, Wisconsin, after dozen years of marriage, Laura and Charlie Rider are comfortable with each other though their relationship has become nonsexual. They enjoy working together in their Prairie Wind Farm nursery business and especially enjoy good storytelling.
However, something subtly changes between the couple when Charlie and radio show host Jenna Faroli begin exchanging emails encouraged by Laura who thinks that will enable her to write a Jane Austen quality romantic masterpiece. Laura persuades Charlie to jointly write fanciful and flowery intimate messages to lure the town’s most famous person into "The Project". However, the game they play spins out of control when Charlie begins to desire Jenna; jealous Laura believes she is working on a masterpiece; and Jenna finds herself wanting and loathing Charlie as the “author” of those romantic emails.
This is an interesting but strange triangle as each of the prime trio has wants and flaws with a sort of modern day gender bending Cyrano take of who is writing the poetic romantic emails. Throw in Jenna’s supportive buddy Dickie into the mix to further complicate the already convoluted relationships. Amusing yet profound, LAURA RIDER’S MASTERPIECE is refreshing and original although the audience will feel Jane Hamilton could have went even further outside the conventional story line.