A summer of reading and contemplation among the privileged—and less than privileged—of the Hamptons.
Angela is a retired literature professor who inhabits a small cottage and supplements her pension by leading book groups for the Hamptons’ coddled trophy wives. Lissy, one of the wives, joined—and named—the Page Turners Club even though books make her tired. She wants to impress Ardith, Alpha-female of the Summer People, but Lissy also harbors an obscure yen to change her life—an idyllic one, except for hubby’s hectoring ex, Danielle, and Lissy’s two ultra-entitled stepkids, who are threatening to visit this very summer. Lissy’s maid, Michelle, named after the Beatles song, frets over her boyfriend Hank’s ambivalence and lingering affection for his ex-wife, April. She’d love to mother Hank’s daughter, Kayla, if only the anorexic teen would let her. Angela’s set for a life of fraught bi-sexuality. The love affair that defined her fate, estranged her from her best friends and ended as a result of the shocking malice of an ex-girlfriend, hardly ever intrudes on her thoughts now. That changes after a chance encounter with the former friends’ daughter, Charlotte, in Manhattan. Angela learns that Charlotte’s father, her long-ago painter lover, is dead. But Charlotte and her actor boyfriend are ripe for surrogate parenting. Lissy, meanwhile, is haunted by murky memories of her childhood nanny’s sudden death, and flustered by her attraction to an inept magician who has stalked her ever since she hired him while performing her hobby job, party planner.
Despite a fondness for overly pat resolutions, Wolitzer (The Doctor’s Daughter, 2006, etc.) still manages to wrest originality from the jaws of cliché with this sharply observed, multi-voiced novel.