Can a cuckolded master of the universe survive the transition from Manhattan to upstate New York?
In this effortlessly charming coming-of-middle-age story from television exec Weinstock (As Long As She Needs Me, 2001, etc.), Bill Schoenberg has been tossed out of his Manhattan apartment by unfaithful wife Pippa. This upheaval prompts lifelong urbanite Bill to relocate to the couple’s vacation house in the small burg of Harristown, N.Y., decorated by Pippa with the taste of a nouveau riche Russian mobster. (Somehow this makes the fact that she cheated on him much, much worse.) Bill ditches his career, which had something to do with moving around vast piles of money and making everyone, including himself, miserable, but finds that settling in Harristown is problematic. Out of shape both physically and emotionally, he slums about the overstuffed house, subsisting on gin-and-tonics and bemoaning his lot in life before throwing in with the local volunteer fire department. Cut off from the only thing he knows how to do, shunning all contact with his former life, Bill needs something to latch onto, and if that something happens to involve learning how to roll up a fire hose and occasionally saving somebody’s life, then so be it. Of course, he also thinks that one of the firefighters may be the guy who stole his wife. A former volunteer fireman himself, the author is at his best when depicting the gruff, easy camaraderie of the company and the grudging manner in which they include the city boy. Although the machinations of the Hornby-esque finding-yourself story become predictable near the end, Weinstock gets a good amount of traction out of depicting Bill’s adjustment to his rawer surroundings.
A novel of self-discovery that glides by with ease.