by Julie HaleNovember, 2004
Secrets of the City
Roiphe's latest novel initially appeared, Charles Dickens-fashion, as a serial in the New York Jewish newspaper The Forward. In short, tightly connected chapters, she tells the suspenseful story of Mel Rosenberg, the mayor of an unnamed metropolis, who is coping with a multitude of problems, including a malfunctioning welfare system and an insufficient city budget. Racial conflicts also dog his administration, keeping the population in a state of high tension. When animals all over town in the park and at the zoo start to die mysteriously, the pitch of citywide hysteria reaches new heights. The mayor's personal life is equally troubled. He loves his wife Ruth, but is distracted by the attentions of an attractive newspaper reporter. Jacob, his lawyer son, is married to a shoplifter. Mel's daughter, Ina, a scientist, is struggling to make her life with her husband Sergei work. To further complicate matters, Sergei's immigrant brother Leonid is involved in a series of sketchy transactions that could ruin the family. The author of seven novels, Roiphe is an expert at portraying the complexities of family dynamics. A timely, quick-moving narrative that explores modern-day relationships, the nature of public scandal and life in the big city, her newest book is written with intelligence, compassion and wit. A reading group guide is included in the book and available online at www.crownpublishing.com.