The residents of a historic Manhattan building are thrown for a loop when an elderly socialite dies, leaving her spectacular apartment up for grabs.
In the glittering world of Bushnell’s latest (Lipstick Jungle, 2006, etc.), where you live is easily as important as how (and with whom) you live. So when Louise Houghton passes away a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, her Greenwich Village neighbors are anxious to have a say in who ends up living in her coveted 7,000 square-foot space. The players include octogenarian gossip columnist Enid Merle, her successful screenwriter nephew Philip Oakland, and the embittered middle-aged head of the co-op board, Mindy Gooch. Long resentful of the fact that her family inhabits One Fifth’s “worst” apartment, Mindy pushes through a quickie sale of Louise’s place seemingly just to thwart Enid. The new residents, Paul and Annalisa Rice, certainly seem suitable. Annalisa is a down-to-earth beauty who gave up her law practice to accompany her math-genius husband to New York, where he is developing some super-secret financial software. Paul, unlike his wife, is cold and entitled, and as his fortunes grow, a sinister, paranoid side of him emerges that alienates everyone in the building, including Annalisa. But is Paul just a creep, or something worse? Philip’s love life, meanwhile, takes a complicated turn when movie star ex-girlfriend Schiffer Diamond moves back after years of living in Los Angeles. The two share a deep connection, but reconciliation seems iffy when Philip starts sleeping with his 22-year-old “researcher” Lola Fabrikant. A pampered schemer who sets her sights on marriage—and Philip’s apartment—Lola hedges her bets by dallying with snarky celebrity blogger Thayer Core, who in turn uses her for information. Mindy’s hen-pecked novelist husband James also develops a crush on the lissome Lola, who begins paying attention to him when his new book becomes a surprise success.
With a breezy pace that brings to mind a Gilded Age comedy of manners, the novel might not have anything new to say about New York society, but there are enough twists to keep it fun.