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Lost and Found Lovers


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Inspired by her meeting anew her college boyfriend, and by a sentimental reading of The Bridges of Madison County, Kalish, a psychology professor at CSU, Sacramento, founded the Lost Love Project, an exploration of rekindled romances. Publicizing the project through various media including radio and newspapers, Kalish heard from numerous potential participants; this roundup of her findings, an uncomfortable blend of academic research and pop-speak, is based on information acquired from more than 1000 questionnaires returned to her, as well as letters. The text itself consists primarily of her correspondents' words linked by Kalish's thoughts. Her findings are sometimes surprising-for instance, that "lovers who had lived together during the first romance were least likely to remain together (54%) after reconnecting." Also surprising, however, are some of her interpretations, based on developmental psychology theories, of her data. Such concepts as separation anxiety in infants and Piaget's theories of conservation and reversibility in the cognitive development of young children seem stretched at times to fit tenuous conclusions. In one chapter and in an appendix, Kalish offers lists of operas, song hits, movies and tales that deal with rediscovered loves-possibly to drive home the point that "renewed love has mass sales appeal." The hundreds of letters from participants often sound alike, and while the sense of rapture in many of them is conveyed cumulatively, this isn't surprising in a study whose subjects are self-selected. Kalish has done hard work here in generating what academic conclusions she can from data that are almost strictly anecdotal, but as rigorous social science this book is questionable. It's going to attract attention, though, as the first major nonfiction treatment of a subject sure to make baby boomers' hearts beat faster-no wonder it's being published on Valentine's Day. Author tour. (Feb.)

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