9780679457220 / 0679457224

Until the Real Thing Comes Along:


Publisher:Random House



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About the book:

For the protagonist of Elizabeth Berg's Until the Real Thing Comes Along, the biological clock is ticking all too loudly. Alas, there are no likely partners on the horizon for Patty Ann Murphy. Even an attractive, appropriately sensitive guy ends up giving her the heebie-jeebies: "Now he is turning my face toward him and kissing me and I feel that as soon as he stops I'll start screaming. I don't, of course. I say, 'Would you like some pretzels?'" The only man who doesn't inspire this kind of junk-food diversionary tactic is Patty's high-school sweetheart Ethan Gaines--but he happens to be gay. What's a woman of the '90s to do?

The answer: she persuades Ethan to impregnate her, and they agree to a marriage of true minds (if not bodies.) They won't, of course, actually marry, or even live together. But Patty signs on for a lifetime of child rearing with her sexually indifferent soul mate--and finds herself wading into a wealth of emotional complications. Will Ethan ever make love to her again? Will her parents accept her (essentially) single-mommy status? Berg manages to cast these thorny issues in a comedic light, without ever consigning Patty and her wisecracking cohorts to a complete farce. And there is that payoff at the end, when Ethan hands her the love child in the delivery room:

With a tenderness I would not have thought possible in earth-bound humans, he gives her to me. Her wet head is cupped; her quivering chest is calmed. What have my hands been doing all my life before this? I see now that they too have just been born. I unwrap the blanket, stop breathing.
Yes, Patty does eventually start breathing again. And readers will share her delight at the undeniable fact that the real thing has finally come along. --Anita Urquhart

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