When I was much younger, I read the author's book "The Fame Game." At the time, I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read (probably because at 16, I hadn't read many really 'good' books). However, I continued to be a fan of Rona Jaffe's and read all of her subsequent books and was usually entertained with a good story and interesting characters.
Unfortunately, The Room-Mating Season is neither a good story nor does it have compelling characters.
By reading the synopsis, it seems that the book is about 4 girls coming of age in New York City in the early 60's and continuing with their lives through present day (a great premise). Actually, it is really about 3 of the women and one male friend. I found the lead female character, Cady Fineman, so pathetically needy, so filled with jealousy, so immature and unlikeable, that every time a chapter started about Cady, I wanted to skip it.
What amazed me about all of the women in this book is how they so blithely had affairs with married men - and not only were they married men, but they were also much, much older married men (20 years older than the girls). It seems to me like Rona Jaffe has a fixation with older men and younger women. (And thinking back to "The Fame Game" it was also about a much older man having affairs with very young women.) Does she have a father/daughter complex?
With the exception of Leigh, the most stable woman in the group, the other characters do not mature or grow wiser with age. They mourn the loss of their youth because they are not beautiful or desirable to men anymore. Cady ends up desperately trying to pick up younger men to have sex with and Vanessa, because she is no longer desirable to strangers in bars, decides to have an affair with the one man in her life who has always loved her (even though she has the depth of a pickle chip).
This book is so lightweight, it could fly away on a balloon.
This book can be read over the course of a weekend and if I had read this book as a 16 year old, I probably would have liked it. More mature readers however, will probably be disappointed.