Grazer, author of the novel-turned-TV series The Starter Wife (2005), limns two modern American archetypes, the real-estate mogul and his bored socialite wife, doing battle on the moneyed playing field of Manhattan.
Jacks and Cynthia began with visions of an artistic life (she was a ballerina, he a struggling painter), but when she got pregnant, he lost himself in his father’s real-estate empire. Twenty-five years later, at the anniversary gala for a few hundred of their closest friends and enemies, Jacks shows up late, and livid Cynthia smiles for the cameras. The next day, after seeing a photo in the Post of Jacks embracing his latest girlfriend, morning news anchor Lara, Cynthia tells him she wants a divorce, and Jacks moves into the guest quarters. There is little love left between them, but the real estate they share—now that’s something to fight for. They both want the penthouse, and Cynthia is willing to prolong the divorce for years to get it. So Jacks comes up with a scheme straight out of a screwball comedy to pay a handsome young bartender to woo his wife. Meanwhile, Cynthia is becoming an independent woman for the first time since her marriage. With the help of her Zorba-like therapist and straight-talking lesbian daughter, she takes over the directorship of a ballet company. Her experiences reinforce what she already suspected: The life of a socialite isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Jacks, an amusing caricature of a powerful man with an ego of glass (he’s also terrified of his geriatric father), can’t seem to lure Lara into marriage; he’s found the one woman in Manhattan who would rather cover news on the frontlines in Afghanistan than marry a billionaire. Too much of everything is not quite enough for happiness, Grazer cogently demonstrates, but before she gets too serious, romance redeems everyone.
A sly, observant report from a rarefied world that’s sure to be another big hit.