Ophir – A Dime Store Romance for the Urban Intelligentsia
by Pamela Atkinson
Trafford Publishing

"She felt that big, empty space reverberate with loneliness and with great, fat, dry gusts of familiar kinds of pain…"

Madalyn and Tina are two professional working women in Vancouver, Canada, during the bull market days of the eighties. Madalyn has a college degree in art but has laid up her brushes for easy money as a legal secretary. Tina has a more relevant degree in urban geography and works for a commercial real estate developer. Each twenty six, they have known each other since the sixth grade. When John Smilie, a real estate agent from Tina’s office, sets his sights on Madalyn, she succumbs to his sexual magnetism. But John’s upwardly mobile ambitions grates on Madalyn’s nerves and she finds herself subconsciously challenging John’s values with a bohemian artist’s sensibility. Meanwhile Tina begins an adulterous affair with John Pickard, a married attorney in his early forties who works at Madalyn’s firm.          

The alchemy of sex and ambition helps flesh out these characters, whom the author draws out with a deft intensity. Madalyn’s repressed bohemianism and Tina’s fear of commitment portray the conflicted values of the women and men during the money-flushed days of the eighties. The plot is ostensibly that of love won and lost, but more compellingly about self-knowledge and values. There are sub-plots of failed marriage, social climbing, financial corruption, and the emergence of AIDS. But what stands out is Madalyn’s struggle to overcome the flaw of overly needy dependence on a man to provide her a sense of worth and value. Her emotional turmoil turns out to be the catalyst for a rediscovery of her own creative potential. A rather clear indictment of the high finance-driven decade emerges as the author’s theme. It is a well-executed and thought- provoking work.

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