If you're over the age of, say, twenty, THE PURSUIT OF ALICE THRIFT probably won't tell you anything you haven't already learned in the demanding School of Relationships. Alice Thrift, M.D., is a hapless first-year surgical resident at a Boston teaching hospital. Expected to work a zillion-hour week, she doesn't have a life outside her scrubs. She's the epitome of boring. Her only contact with the outside world is her platonic male roomy and friend, Leo, an extremely popular pediatric RN at the same institution. Alice doesn't have a boyfriend, much less a pet goldfish. One day while rotating through Plastic Surgery, Alice is consulted by a forty-year old widower, Ray Russo, seeking advice about a nose job. After being talked out of it, Ray embarks on his romantic pursuit of Thrift. Russo is a fudge salesman. Or so he says. He's also extraordinarily glib, and, obviously to everyone but Alice, up to something. The problem with THE PURSUIT OF ALICE THRIFT is threefold. The ending is revealed on page 6 when Thrift tells the reader that Ray is a "LIAR", and that they had a failed marriage. One only reads further in hope of learning the sordid details. Secondly, Alice is numbingly ordinary. Having that goldfish, or even a tabletop ant farm, might have made her more interesting. And her social interactions with more socially developed friends and colleagues are only marginally amusing. Finally, since this is a story about the poor decisions a person makes to escape the throes of loneliness, it shouldn't be revelation to any reasonably contemplative individual beyond adolescence. Indeed, on finishing this novel, the average reader should be able to state, "Yup. Been there; done that; will likely do it again." THE PURSUIT OF ALICE THRIFT isn't a bad book, just decidedly so-so.
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