A charming yet provocative look at the close-knit Los Angeles neighborhood of Larchmont, where one woman's indiscretion forces everyone to re-examine their marriages.
Frances Bloom drives a carpool of children, including her own three, to school each morning. This makes her privy to more personal information than most, but she is discreet—the ideal neighbor. One morning she knocks on her friend Anne’s door, then enters, and is stunned to see what Anne is doing on the living room floor...and not with her husband! Frances keeps Anne’s secret, but Anne’s husband eventually finds out. His wrath scorches her, and the neighbors feel the effects. They face their own doubts and worries that perhaps their own marriages could be up for a similar fall—and they all have good reason. And the kids fear the breakups of their parents’ marriages. Thus ensues a series of precautionary (mis)steps meant to shore up relationships, followed by conversations that serve to create as much doubt as they are intended to allay. Waxman (The Garden of Small Beginnings, 2017) is adept at creating sympathetic, believable characters. It’s primarily Frances’ gentle but tongue-in-cheek presence and subtle strength—along with her unique powers of expression, rich in original similes and metaphors—that carry readers along. The “Cast of Characters” and “Frances’s Map of the Neighborhood” set the stage for a great read before the first chapter begins. This is a voyeuristic (in a nice way) and humorous trip through what is usually hidden behind closed doors.
Waxman is a master at purveying the wry humor that rides just below the surface of even the tough times. An immensely enjoyable read.