THE critic who for years on end produces pages oft trenchant and highly disillusioned comment on books and at the same time writes a novel — and a good one — is a rare bird. The best qualities of If It Prove Fair Weather are, logically enough, the pointed, witty dialogue and the uncannily accurate re-creation of the look and feel and emotional quality of the life which successful business and professional women live in contemporary New York. The way restaurants look, when you are waiting for a man. The way the streets look. The way the burned-out fire looks in your apartment when you get home from a party and snap the lock in your solitary door. The solid, cynical friendships such women bear for one another, and the unreasonable nostalgia they feel for the small towns from which they came, which are an unbearable boredom to revisit and yet plague them with memory. Miss Paterson’s New York is one in which personal privacy compensates royally for rootless isolation. No one has ever drawn this special scene more skillfully. On the debit side — the book does drag badly in places, and one wonders if I. M. P. approved the jacket blurb. The hero seems not a ‘stuffed shirt’ but a painfully acute portrait of an extremely familiar figure.
I. M. P. states baldly that this is ‘ the only love story ever written,’ which we beg to find admissible on the sole ground that it deals only with that part of the heroine’s hours during which love, not business, is her unique concern. Some of the minor characters, not excepting the cat, are as memorable as the engaging heroine. Will Cuppy, by another name, smells just as sweet and dry as in the Bookworm’s column.