The Lounge proudly returns to the incredible paperback rack for our latest Reading Room selection, Rona Jaffe's 1979 bestseller, Class Reunion. Those of you unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Ms. Jaffe are missing out on one of life's great guilty pleasures. I'm reading through her collected works and so far each novel follows the exact same pattern, chronicling the lives of three or four young women over a period ranging from one to thirty years, during which time we witness their struggles in the business world, their struggles to hide their devastating secrets, and especially their struggles with men. Class Reunion begins in September 1953, when Annabel, Daphne, Chris and Emily begin their freshman year at Radcliffe and ends with their 20th class reunion in 1977. Our girls suffer a lot over those 24 years and we get to see all of it, from Annabel's ostracizing as the "Harvard whore" to Chris' obsession with a gay man, whom she eventually marries, because she's sure he's changed. Let's read a little. In this section, Chris has just found her husband in their bed with a strange boy.

She didn't want to say a word to him until the boy was gone. The room seemed polluted. She could never sleep on that mattress again. Her life was over, destroyed. How could he do this to her, in her own house? How long had he been doing it, lying to her? Did he ever really love her at all, or was it a lie and she a convenience, his gesture toward propriety? She fought back the tears and glared at him.

"What are you doing here?" Alexander asked gently. "Did something happen?"

"My father had a heart attack," she said. "He's all right. I didn't come in to spy on you, if that's what you think."

"I never thought that." His face was full of pain.

The boy came out of the bathroom wearing jeans and a T-shirt. He had a young, slim, hipless body and a stupidly handsome face. "I can't find my socks," he whined.

"For God's sake!" Alexander said, annoyed. He pulled a pair of bright green socks out from under the bed and threw them at him. Then he pushed him down the hall, the boy still holding his socks and sneakers in his hand. Chris heard the front door slam. She sat on the chair and began to shake. Alexander came back and sat on the edge of the bed, facing her.

"You don't know how sorry I am," he said.

Cosmopolitan Magazine said, "Reading Rona Jaffe is like being presented with a Cartier watch: you know exactly what you're getting and it's just what you want." From melodrama (Emily's stint in a mental hospital after letting her non-swimming children take a dip in the pool) to sleaze (Annabel's one-morning stand with one of the firefighters who helped douse her burning home the night before), Class Reunion has it all. I plan to hit the Middletown Library's used bookstore this weekend to see if I can find After the Reunion. In the meantime, there's plenty of material from the prolific Ms. Jaffe to keep me going for weeks. Pick up Class Reunion and revel in the knowledge that, as bad as your life might sometimes seem, at least you aren't one of these women!

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