In Dubow's second novel (Indiscretion, 2013)—pleasingly reminiscent of Maugham and Fitzgerald—our hero narrates a lifetime spent adoring one impossibly beautiful, out-of-reach woman.
Wylie Rose's obsession with Cesca Bonet begins at 9, the day he breaks his arm trying to impress her on her family's East Hampton estate. The novel, set in the last half of the 20th century, spans decades of their lives as they pursue their dreams (in the glamorous way only the very rich can) and slip in and out of love affairs, always returning to each other. Cesca is one of four children born to a New York heiress and a Spanish artist; Wylie's father warns him of the family: "They're beautiful, talented, rich. It's all very seductive. But they're like spoiled children. They'll take everything and give nothing in return." But it's too late—young Wylie is in their thrall. He befriends Cesca's brother Aurelio, who even as a teenager is a talented painter and who nurtures Wylie's dreams of painting and introduces him to the last of the area's fabled abstract expressionists. Out of boredom, Cesca takes Wylie as a lover and casts a spell over him; no other woman can ever compare to her wild, slightly tragic allure. She moves to London, has affairs with rich young men who want to marry her, leaves them, has brief trysts with Wylie, and then moves on, breaking his heart, over and over again. Meanwhile, Wylie becomes an architect, moves to Paris, dates the daughter of a count (weekends at the chateau are lovely) until Cesca calls for him. The novel is a whirlwhind of impossibly chic settings and experiences; the characters know all the right people and do all the right things—Cesca is at Max's Kansas City with Iggy Pop, Aurelio's mentor was friends with Pollock—though to some extent the novel's heavy reliance on character development through association is a weakness. Nevertheless, Dubow offers a heady, intoxicating tale, and young Wylie's journey to manhood is a memorable one.
A story of the most interesting people you will ever know, told with style and verve.