August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Mammoth Cheese

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sheri Holman
publisher
Atlantic Monthly Press
genre
Fiction
We gave it a C+

In 2000’s The Dress Lodger, Holman was as seductive as a siren with her brutal, bleak tale of a desperate woman in 19th-century England. Here, Holman goes modern and folksy, although she’s still following desperate women: Margaret, a struggling Virginia farm owner (and maker of the titular cheese); Polly, Margaret’s rebellious teenage daughter; and their neighbor Manda, who, thanks to the wonders of fertility drugs, gives birth to 11 children. It basically adds up to things-can-get-tough-but-ain’t-life-grand — a disappointment from a writer too gifted to settle for merely warming our hearts. With Cheese, Holman has dulled her edges so that there’s nothing to snag the reader.

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