Christensen, who wrote about passionate septuagenarians in the Pen/Faulkner Award–winning The Great Man (2007), turns her attention to wilted 40-somethings.
Manhattan therapist Josie realizes her long marriage to her professor husband Anthony is over. It’s all very civilized. Anthony is sad but agreeable while their precocious 11-year-old daughter Wendy, adopted as an infant from China, decides to stay in the apartment with Anthony. Despite Josie’s claims that Wendy hates her, Wendy seems remarkably supportive. Meanwhile, Josie’s half Mexican college friend Raquel, now a major singing star, is targeted by scandal blogs after her affair with a television hunk half her age. Hiding from the media in Mexico City, Raquel asks Josie to keep her company, and Josie, on a two-week Christmas break from her practice, agrees. Raquel, who has been through drug rehab more than once, shows Josie a good time heavy on tequila, cigarettes and spicy food, with some church and museum visits thrown in. On the plaza they meet David, a one-armed native artist raised in Chicago. Through David, Josie and Raquel join the Mexico City bohemian artist scene. Tragedy will ultimately separate the women.
Christensen couples a romanticizing, tour guide approach to Mexico City with cardboard Mexican characters for an uncomfortable effect. Despite lively sex and some clever early scenes, the novel has a tepid half-baked quality.