Any woman who has loved too much will readily identify with this story and ask herself again, "WHY?"
Both Lib and Jan Lander were married to Sidney - serially, not simultaneously, though that fact doesn't excuse his trickery, unfaithfulness and mental cruelty. Sidney is the kind of man who has to come out on top, especially in his dealings with women. He's a black Don Juan, never happier than when he's seeing himself through the glowing eyes of another female admirer.
Lib was his first wife, an intelligent, ambitious, dignified African American woman who should never have found herself in the morass of problems she experienced with Sidney. But he was plausible. Not a ne'er-do-well, he was both a military and medical professional. He had bucks, not that she knew that when he drew up the papers for their divorce. Lib didn't take the advice of a good lawyer - she didn't contest Sidney's terms. Even after all she'd gone through, and with the certain knowledge that Sidney wouldn't hesitate to lie to her about his financial means as he had about everything else. She ended up with far less than she'd a right to. WHY?
Jan, white and a professional person, was a pretty, happy, married woman cresting on her long-time relationship with a man who was kind enough but cold, and contemplating an empty nest as her children flew out on their own. She met Sidney at a conference and found she could talk to him, really talk to him. It wasn't long before her daily talks with him became an obsession, and she was lying to her family about where she was when she went to the airport to meet him on his jaunts through town. Not long after that, she was moving out at the insistence of her children, who declared she was too hard to live with anymore. It was easier to go than to confess that she was in the thrall of an uncontrollable, mesmeric entanglement. WHY?
Jan met Lib at the wedding of Sidney's daughter. It was an awkward situation, of course, but both had regard for the other. Jan could see that Lib was a strong, smart lady, and Lib hoped, sincerely hoped, that Jan might be the person who could turn Sidney around.
No fairy-tale endings here. Sidney led Jan a not-so-merry chase, taking two years to acquiesce to marriage after backing out at least once. Then he insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement that so favored him that Jan had the sense to protest it. The agreement they finally signed was somewhat more balanced but gave Sidney a jumping off place, if things didn't work out after five years. He tried to make sure they didn't, so that Jan would be the loser again. WHY?
The book doesn't delve deeply enough into the psychology of this dangerous and poisonous male personality, nor does it go far enough in explaining the presumed bond between Lib and Jan, making it seem a thin pretext for the story at hand. Jan and Lib do respect one another and did develop a friendship based on mutual suffering. Since their relationship crosses color lines, it would be fascinating to know more about it. And to find out more about how they view their own personal inner landscapes after a brush with emotional disaster. The briefest of statements from each woman at the end of the book is not sufficient. The WHY is missing, and the reader wants more.