Three generations of smart, articulate women deal with challenging life passages.
Henrietta, 70, lost her beloved husband—a famous chef—11 months ago and cannot recover emotionally or financially. Her straits are such that she has grudgingly allowed the reissue of The Inseparables, an X-rated bestseller she wrote in her 20s. She’s also started selling tchotchkes from around her house, but the most valuable of them, a weathervane, has gone missing. Meanwhile, her daughter, Oona, an orthopedic surgeon, is navigating the waters of a choppy divorce from her pothead ex-lawyer spouse, Spencer, and has embarked on a dubious relationship with their couples therapist. Oona and Spencer’s 15-year-old daughter, Lydia, has been the victim of a terrible classmate at boarding school, Charlie, who made her think he was her boyfriend, gave her her first kiss, and then posted pictures of her breasts on the Internet. “Hartwell took students as young as six, taught them Mandarin, Shakespeare, and computer coding, and spat them back out in to the world as currency traders or diplomats or white-collar criminals.” This Charlie kid is getting started early; he's ruined Lydia’s life in a way not completely different than the overexposure that still torments her ex–sex-writer grandmother. Nadler (The Wise Men, 2013), a male writer in his 30s, truly dazzles with his understanding of women—this is the kind of book that will cause female readers to fall in love with the author. The three parallel plots unfold very tautly for at least two-thirds of the duration, then things slow down with too many flashbacks and digressions in the climactic chapters. The resolutions of all the problems are a little flat, if unarguably realistic. But these things are more something for book groups to talk about than serious flaws.
Love this writer. Love these characters.