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A Cooler Climate

by Zena Collier

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From Publishers Weekly
A provocative story of a conventional woman who suddenly loses her social identity and financial security, this quietly engrossing first novel tells of Iris Prue, 45, destitute after leaving her wealthy husband for a lover--who then abandons her--and settling for a quick but inequitable divorce. Iris's pampered past as wife, mother and hostess has ill prepared her for earning her own living, and as she fails at one job after another she focuses on the one field she has mastered: housekeeping. To the dismay of her friends and the horror of her daughter, Callie, a lawyer, Iris takes a job with Leo and Paula Tanner, a wealthy couple with theatrical connections, to be cook and maid in their home in Maine. Because Paula is demanding, cold and arrogant, Iris is initially uncertain and insecure. Soon she finds her chores manageable, however, and begins to make friends in the small community, gradually regaining her confidence and self-esteem. Then Paula suffers a crushing blow when her daughter runs off with an unscrupulous young man and Leo demands a divorce. She reaches out to Iris and the two women become tentative friends, but Iris fears she will lose her newfound independence if she immerses herself in Paula's problems. Collier, who has previously written children's books, offers no easy solutions here. The absorbing story is peopled by a cast of robust characters and moves to a shocking yet believable conclusion.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
In Collier's first novel, middle-aged Iris Prue leaves her wealthy plastic surgeon husband for an artist, who then deserts her. She faces the fact that she must somehow support herself, and takes a job as housekeeper for a troubled couple at their summer home in Maine. She observes their problems, which are so familiar to her, as she tries to build a new life. A Cooler Climate explores relationships between women, both personal and social, and the pressures that affect women's life choices. However, the upper-class, monied characters are not easy to relate to. Even Iris lives in a world where friends urge her not work. For larger fiction collections.
- Gwen Gregory, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
When Iris, 45, divorces her wealthy physician husband of many years to go off to a new life with the man she loves, she settles for a quick but inequitable divorce. When her lover then abandons her, she finds herself alone, desperate and without resources. Unprepared to earn her own living, she fails at one job after another and loses all confidence. Iris finally decides to use the one skill she acquired in her marriage—housekeeping. To the dismay of her friends and her daughter, she takes a job as housekeeper in the luxurious Maine summer home of Broadway lawyer Leo Tanner and his wife Paula.

It soon becomes clear that Paula has no life of her own—her entire life revolves around her husband and their troubled daughter, Beth. It also grows clear that the role of Iris is more that of maid than housekeeper. Paula is cold and arrogant, and makes unreasonable demands, which Iris must cater to because she needs the job.

Gradually Iris makes friends in the community, begins to regain confidence, and is determined to work her way through to independence. Paula suffers a crushing double blow when her daughter runs off with an unscrupulous young man and Leo demands a divorce. In anguish, Paula reaches out to Iris and they become tentative friends. But Iris fears she will lose her chance of independence if she stays with Paula. In taking steps to make a life of her own, Iris sets in motion a chain of unforeseen events for Paula.



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