January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Note Found in a Bottle: My Life as a Drinker

Current Status
In Season
Susan Cheever
Memoir, Nonfiction
We gave it a B+

Drinking gets discussed surprisingly little in Note Found in a Bottle: My Life As a Drinker. It’s always there, sure — ”Sometimes I drank some wine during the day”; ”Robert mixed martinis in the parlor”; ”At my birthday dinner we drank a few bottles of champagne” — but it’s there on the page the same way traffic noises are there in a city: It’s part of the scenery. Like most alcoholics, Susan Cheever never thought she had a problem because she was always able to function normally — she worked, wrote books, married, had children. Her story is a fascinating one, and she makes her points in understated, almost diffident prose, until the final chapter’s AA-esque meditation on God. B+

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