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Life and Love, Such As They Are

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Life and Love, Such As They Are Anna Shapiro (Simon & Schuster, $21) Ella lives with Stephen. Ella loves Frank. Frank is married. Cynthia loves Burton. Ave moves in with Burton. All six break up, merge, and flirt in pretentious prose like, ”she had to find a wine that was the exact, the exact color of that yellow in her mind’s eye.” But just as their self-indulgent couplings become irritating, Frank is stunningly nasty to Ella, and suddenly you want to phone all your female friends and tell them to stay away from married men. Or Ave steps on Burton, and you want to detach all sweet, ditzy men from manipulative harridans. Shapiro lets convincing pain emerge only rarely from her frothy gossip, but when it does, you’ll think twice about continuing any unsatisfactory affair or ending it. B- -Kate Wilson