<B>A siren's serenade</B> Coming to terms with your womanhood is a process neither easy nor straightforward, as Trudy, Jade, Shanelle and Roberta each learn in Barbara Samuel's sublime <B>Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue</B>. The four friends have defined their lives through one facet: the men they love. For Trudy, that love is shattered when she learns her husband has been having an affair. Roberta's husband dies after a 62-year marriage. Jade's ex-husband, Dante the conman with too much con in him still haunts her. Even Shanelle is tormented by the conflict between her love for writing and her husband Tony's expectations. Barbara Samuel's writing is, quite simply, splendid. And there's nothing simple about it. As she peels away the layers of relationships, Samuel creates a nuanced story as finely wrought as a beautifully woven tapestry. Each of these women-in-transition finds that her truest identity is the one she makes for herself. Whether literally fighting for her sense of self, like Jade, or rediscovering true fulfillment in her earliest dreams, as Trudy finally does, these women are as familiar as your next-door neighbor and as exotic as the goddesses who archetype their lives. Samuel soars with genius in the humanity of her storytelling.

<I>Sandy Huseby writes and reviews from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and lakeside in northern Minnesota.</I>

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