Peter Wallace is, to all appearances, a success. Handsome, intelligent, educated, and talented. He is the quintessential success story: vice president and genius-in-residence for the biggest ad agency in town. But in the shadow of this facade is a haunted house of insecurity. A detractor calls him "the quintessential cliché."
Peter's marriage is dysfunctional for some reasons he doesn't comprehend and for others he knows well. His fragile self-esteem had always forced him to seek the affections of women. Now, with his marriage crumbling, what had been recreational becomes nearly a clinical necessity.
Laura is a beautiful, Southern country girl; a fashion model. Her good looks and apparent attraction to Peter create a scenario in which Peter doesn't love her, but becomes addicted to her beauty and her sometimes-trashy ways. He views her as a bauble to be worn until he becomes bored. His wife Katherine is aware of the affair and has a college friend move him from the house in a violent but humorous scene. The friend, while somewhat foppish, is better-looking and stronger than Peter.
The court stuns Peter by imposing huge alimony payments and child support. He marries Laura to fulfill his need to be worshiped, but the two are left with little. He faces the necessity of selling his prized possession, his boat. This seems superficial, but Peter measures his own worth by status and possessions. While he temporarily savors his freedom from Katherine, he mourns the loss of his two children. Myrna Jacobi, his attorney, counsels him to clear his mind and to find himself. She recounts her own breakup, telling Peter that she found herself dancing alone in the kitchen one evening and knew then that she had discovered the answer. Find out who you are, she counsels.
Katherine is murdered. It is assumed that her new lover, an alcoholic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, did it in a fit of anger. Lack of evidence results in his release, but he is known on the street as the perpetrator. The real murderer, Laura, has become an alcoholic, and the marriage is over, even though they live in the same house. She meets the photographer at an AA meeting, and they fall in love. She leaves Peter, who is, by this time, completely in love with Myrna Jacobi. But Myrna is unavailable for a surprising reason.
Peter is recruited by a Fortune 500 - size private firm headed by Martin Mendel, an offensive, insulting, second-generation owner. The company is falsely seen as having Mafia ties. Peter realizes, later in his employment, that Mendel could easily sell his company for more than a billion dollars and be rid of the allegations. Peter recognizes one night that Myrna has mapped the course to his soul, and that Marty Mendel taught him character and strength on a level where Peter had never before traversed. Mendel chose to clear his family name over easy money.
Peter settles into a life of satisfying work and relationship with his children. One evening, as he is cooking dinner and enjoying music and a glass of good wine by himself, the phone rings.
Slow Dancing In The Kitchen is the story of spiritual metamorphosis. It is a modern-day Pilgrim's Progress.
On another level, Slow Dancing In The Kitchen is the story of the relationships between fathers and sons and fathers and daughters and the ways in which these interactions affect life. Some characters are forever prisoners of early relationships, but Peter Wallace ultimately gathers the strength to escape.