Once in a while I pick up a piece of contemporary literary fiction, just to keep my hand in for the purposes of reader's advisory, or to see what's out there and confirm that I'd rather be reading Fantasy & Science Fiction. Almost inevitably, as was the case with Jane Hamilton's Laura Rider's Masterpiece, I finish the book with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. Laura Rider has been married to Charlie for twelve years, and is tired of his sexual attentions. She also aspires to writing a "conscious romance" that explores the motivations of Everywoman. Enter Jenna Faroli, local radio show host and woman of interest to both Laura and Charlie, who begin an email correspondence with her that is engineered (by Laura) into a romance for her observation. Predictably, this does not end well. I would describe the novel as a character study of three fairly unsympathetic characters, but I felt that Hamilton never really spent enough time from a single character's perspective to make me sympathetic to his or her motivations. Charlie quickly fades to the background, and the book is nominally about Laura Rider, but the lack of depth and occasionally flowery descriptive prose prevent the reader from truly becoming connected. I did like the cover art, however.