Thursday, June 24, 2010


Amazon Product Description. After being infected with herpes, Joan Halprin, a single woman in her mid-thirties, feels untouchable. She spent her youth enjoying worldly experiences in New York and other cities, but now it’s time to start a serious career as a copywriter for a Fort Lauderdale advertising agency. Despite feeling like a pariah in her personal life, Joan is anxious to prove herself professionally.

Fort Lauderdale in the 1980s is experiencing a real estate boom. Joan’s parents have moved from Boston to a retirement community in the area, and her brother and his thrifty wife have settled nearby. But even with the presence of her family, Joan feels isolated with her “H” problem, despite knowing that one in four women, and one in five men, are similarly afflicted.

Her irascible, rotund new boss certainly isn’t helping her regain her self-esteem. But with her irrepressible humor, Joan concocts an extraordinary solution to most of what ails her. Will this creative project work?

“H”: A Novel is an amusing and original tale of office politics, sex, and one woman’s search for her true identity.

Is having an incurable sexually transmitted disease the modern day equivalent of wearing a scarlet letter on one’s chest? While reading the novella H by Barbara Dinerman, I kept making mental comparisons to Hester Prynne. Although it is true that the heroine’s condition – carrying the herpes virus -- is concealed and her social isolation voluntary, the emotional baggage seems about the same. Joan longs for a man’s love, but feels untouchable because of her diagnosis.

H is set in Fort Lauderdale in the early 80’s when the swinging 70’s were history, but AIDS was not yet on the scene. The narrator, Joan, has started a job as a copywriter in a small dysfunctional ad agency. She hopes to lay down roots, achieve some career success, and maybe just maybe find a man who will accept her outbreaks and all.

H is a well written novella which addresses a taboo subject with wit and empathy.

Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (August 16, 2007), 126 pages.
Review copy provided courtesy of the author.


  1. Edgy topic for a novel~liked your review Kim.

  2. This book sounds like it would give you a lot to think about!

  3. I'm intrigued, thoughtful for sure.

  4. Great review.... mynewhomeiowa at yahoo com

  5. Regarding your comparison to Hester Prynne - I'm not sure Joan's situation has the same kind of taboo, especially since Hester was forced to advertise her shame whereas having a sexually transmitted disease can be hidden.

  6. I agree Stephanie -- Joan does not have the same have the same social stigma as Hester. The analogy that I was drawing from the two is the emotional effects of being shunned -- which I think is comparable.

  7. I enjoyed your thoughts on this one. Thanks.

  8. Thanks for the great review, Kim! And I'm glad it sparked a flurry of thoughtful comments. Nice that you liked my book, "H" by Barbara Dinerman. It was meant to be a light treatment of a serious psychological problem, with a few related themes thrown in!