Lusty lesbian extortionists!
Thongs and bouncy breasts!
The above details will probably convince readers that THE DIARY OF V: The Affair is one in a long line of trashy beach reads. And certainly the book, with its short and sharp journal entries, is a naughty, engrossing page turner. The basic plotline, the dissipation of a marriage, is a well-trod one, but first time author Kent injects her story with the emotional heft and humor not often found in a tawdry paperback.
THE DIARY OF V: The Affair began as a serial in Redbook, then became an overnight click success on www.women.com. The titular V is Valerie Tisdale, a psychologist in an unnamed Midwestern college town. V seems to have it all: handsome playwright husband, adorable young son, and fulfilling job at a mental health center. The truth rears its ugly head when V meets Eddie, plant and flower stud, as he is servicing her office ficus. He is a man's man --- bulging muscles, beat up truck, soulful eyes and all. Eddie's mere existence unhinges V; she has been growing discontent with her marriage and now she begins to dream of a dalliance. V's husband Roger is a cold fish who can't and won't fulfill her needs, preferring to watch ESPN instead of watching V strut around in a black teddy. To add insult to injury, while Roger has become an emotionally and physically distant boor with her, V has been picking up some not so subtle signs that Roger has been unfaithful --- i.e., a diaphragm left in his van.
Author Kent is not one to go lightly with the Victorian melodrama. She hits V with one disaster after another. Work, which was formerly V's greatest love and accomplishment, becomes a minefield. As her dreams about Eddie become a reality, a colleague threatens to expose V's liaison, both to her supervisors and to her husband; a catty and power-mad partner is determined to get ahead and wants V out of the picture; and, perhaps intuiting their therapist's confusion, a handful of her troubled clients act out in hurtful ways.
One would think a person trained to deal with other people's problems would handle her own with grace and aplomb, but V has a bit of a self destructive streak. Early in the book, she makes some big mistakes that tear at her and at Peter, her young son. But perhaps that is what makes THE DIARY OF V: The Affair stand out amongst its summer competition. V is everywoman, honest about everything from stretch marks to extramarital sex. She knows what she should do --- leave her husband --- but V is also wrenchingly candid about what that would do to her financially. The scenes where she feels caught between her husband, her lover, and her son display genuine emotion. She is not some super-heroine, but rather a regular Mom, wife, and lover just trying to figure out where she lost control of her life.
The book ends on a somber note, leaving readers to wonder what will happen to V, Eddie, Peter, and the assorted cast of loons, lesbians, and lechers. Don't fret for too long, though --- a sequel is in the works for the Fall.
Reviewed by Addelaide Hayes on June 1, 2001