This rather dark coming of age story set in the 1950’s begins as Ramona Smollens notices Solomon Columbus, a swarthy, well dressed with fat fingers. The two soon marry and Ramona moves into her husband’s more affluent home. Damaged by her past, constantly seeking the approval of her mean spirited mother and obsessed with Rita Hayworth, Ramona tolerates the marriage bed but finds no fulfillment there. Although Solomon is deeply in love with Ramona, she remains so entrenched in her past that she is incapable of returning that love. Her fixation on Hayworth convinces Ramona that Solomon is having an affair and taints any chance at finding true happiness. In the end, Ramona takes drastic measures to exorcise Hayworth, never recognizing the depth of Solomon’s love or his need for personal space.
Wagman’s writing style carries off this story of a troubled young woman trying to come to terms with society’s conflicting messages about sexuality and a woman’s role. Ramona sometimes comes off as a whiny, one-dimensional character but this is countered by convincing emotional depth that will stay with you.