Many days and many, many details in the life of an aging Boston law firm.
First-time novelist Chapman presents a top-to-bottom look at all the trappings of daily life among a dozen or so employees of an established firm whose name has outlived its reputation. With endless picayune detail and a slightly predictable plot, the author certainly succeeds in making the legal profession wholly unattractive. However, if the intention is to show human nature's many faces through close study of the interaction of personalities tossed together in a volatile work environment, the resulting depiction is revealing, if seemingly padded. The worthy attempts at realistic narration stand to benefit from a lesson or two in subtlety and regulation of tone. When Henry James, for instance, subordinates clause after clause, he does so not merely to capture the cadence of his own narrative voice, but to suggest the delicate psychology of the character or situation at hand. When Dorothy Parker unveils a room's minutiae, her consistency of tone vividly imprints each single image in the reader's mind. Much of the telling typifies both the good and the bad here, in that the wit and believable characterization present throughout the novel tend toward the self-conscious, e.g.: â€œHer most idle comments were sprinkled with admonishments that, like anchovies in a Caesar salad, lent a strong aftertaste to even the blandest conversational roughage...” Stylistic quibbles aside, however, this is an often enjoyable read.
A more studied glance at the natures of those in the legal profession than one normally seeks out.