New Contemporary Women’s Fiction for Review: Pam of Babylon by Suzanne Jenkinsbooks for review, Featured — By Dorothy Thompson on April 25, 2012 at 11:39 pm
Pam Smith lives a charmed life as a well-to-do Babylon, N.Y., homemaker in a large house by the water. In her 50s with her children grown, Pam is happy with her exemplary husband Jack. After he has a heart attack on the subway, however, she finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Jack. Pam must confront a series of revelations that unmask a life she realizes she only thought she knew, and the losses and disappointments she discovers give color and understanding to a man markedly different than he appeared. Uncovering secrets and betrayals far worse than her most vivid nightmare, Pam retreats to their meticulous Babylon beach house, the one refuge she has to put the pieces of her life together and move toward ultimate forgiveness.
Jack Smith was thinking I am the luckiest man alive. Sitting at a white linen covered table on the sidewalk outside of his favorite restaurant, he gazed at the perfect face of his mistress of nine months. This place was ‘their’ place. They’d spent a rare night together, and now, in the early morning, they could sit and have a leisurely breakfast, enjoying the perfect weather of late May in New York.
“What do you have to do this weekend?” Jack said, knowing this could be a dangerous topic. Sandra sipped her coffee, head bowed, but eyes on him. She slowly put her cup down and straightened up. He really wanted to know. He was interested in her life outside of where it meshed with his.
“After you leave, I think I’ll start getting ready for the week and then I can relax tonight and tomorrow. Monday I am having lunch at my sister’s. My schedule next week is fairly packed, so the more I can get done now, the easier it will be.” She thought of her messy apartment, the empty refrigerator, the pile of laundry, but didn’t mention it. Jack’s solution to it would be to say “Pay someone to do those things for you, so you can do what you want. Your time is worth more than what it would cost.”
“One thing I would really like to do is get back to that gallery on Houston and see if there isn’t a deal I can work out for that piece we saw last night.” She smiled at Jack and they both nodded their heads, remembering the vibrant painting of the Riverside Gardens. It was so colorful, the yellows and reds and blues exaggerated, the flowers oversized. They both loved it.
“You should have said something while we were there!” He said, smiling at her. She knew he would have bought it then and there for her. But she really wanted to buy it for herself. She knew it was wise to keep things like ’community property’ out of their relationship.
They ate the rest of their breakfast in silence. Soon, Jack would start fidgeting, pushing his chair back slightly, looking around him, and fighting the urge to not look at his watch. Their time together would be over for now. Sandra would try to beat him to the punch; it was easier for her to be in control of this aspect of their life. His schedule would dictate when they could see each other, but she could be in charge of when it would end. She hated those last minutes while they waited for the check to come, feeling like she was sitting in a vacuum. Today was a little different, maybe because of the night before. It was so special, having the evening together, and then spending the night with him. The hotel was the same one they always used and it was clean and comfortable. And, she didn’t allow herself to think of this; impersonal.
He suggested early on that they go to her apartment, but she didn’t know how long they would be together and didn’t want those associations in her home. It would be hard enough to end the relationship without memories of him permeating where she lived. No thank you. It would bad enough having to see him at work every day. Besides, he was wealthy enough to afford a hotel, and she was worth it.
He would not have argued if he knew what she was thinking. On one hand, he was wondering what was taking so long to get the check, he had a lot to do at home today, but on the other, he would miss her terribly. It took all the strength he had not to pout like a child when he was away from her. He thought of his home, close to the sea, the smell of salt air. He imagined the two of them sitting on the veranda overlooking the beach grass. But the face of his wife kept popping up on Sandra’s body as he thought of this, not allowing anyone to take her place, even in his thoughts.
She walked him to the subway, refusing to have him walk her home first. He liked the subway, he said, over taking a cab all the way downtown. She would shop on the way home, and he had a long commute, over an hour, to his home on Long Island. They were arm in arm, a striking couple to look at. He mature, graying at the temples, in good shape for his age; she young, model thin, beautiful. Heads turned to look. Were they famous? The attention they got when they were out in public together pleased them, and they became even more animated, laughing, standing up straighter, happiness radiating from them both.
On Broadway, another observer took note of the radiant couple. Jack’s sister-in-law, Marie, waiting on a Saturday morning bagel line at H & R, uptown because of having gone to the theatre the night before with her friend Arthur, and then staying the night at his apartment. Marie stood there with her mouth opened, heat spreading through her body, shocked and furious. The man behind her tapped her on the shoulder, it was her turn already.
You can visit the author’s website at www.suzannejenkins.net.
If you would like to review Pam of Babylon, please fill out the form below or email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at)gmail.com. Please mention which date would work for you.
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