Nicholas Fonseca
April 04, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sudden Rain

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Maritta Wolff
publisher
Scribner
genre
Fiction

We gave it an B

Maritta Wolff’s last novel — written in 1972 — arrives with a whopper of a backstory. Frustrated by her publisher’s demands, she took back her manuscript and hid it in a fridge; it was discovered only after her 2002 death. It’s held up quite well: Consider the pulpy story — exploring the yearnings of five interconnected couples in smoggy L.A. — the Nixon-era precursor to Tom Perrotta’s acclaimed 2004 novel, Little Children. Like Perrotta’s domestic deviants, Wolff’s finely drawn characters push boldly against social mores: An abortion revealed here! A teenage son’s drug habit uncovered there! Sudden Rain‘s potent handicraft sometimes sags beneath the weight of dippy confab (”I killed our baby, as you seem to like to put it, because I loved you more than I loved it!”), but ultimately proves worthy of its serendipitous discovery.

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