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Wise Men [Paperback]

Stuart Nadler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Feb 2013
This is a sweeping American novel about race, love, family and money set in the last half of the 20th century. Hilton Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy lawyers in the United States. When he falls for Savannah, a young black girl he meets on Cape Cod during the summer of 1952, he has no idea that his passion for her will expose his father's deepest secrets. The result will shatter his family, and hers. Years later, unable to forget, Hilton abandons his comfortable life on the east coast and sets out to find Savannah. But as he struggles to right the wrongs he set in motion he comes to realise that forgiveness doesn't have a price. Set in the last half of the 20th century, years that changed America for ever, "Wise Men" is a sweeping story about love and regret, about the crushing weight of familial obligation, and about the difficulty of doing the right thing in an unjust world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Open market ed edition (19 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447202449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447202448
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,753,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A tense, evocative, page-turning saga of the bruising encounters between two families across the 'colour line' over half a century. Every conversation rings painfully, beautifully true."--Emma Donoghue, author of Room

From the Back Cover

'Brilliant' Grazia

'Beautifully written' Daily Express

Hilton Wise is the son of one of the wealthiest and most powerful lawyers in America. When he falls for Savannah, a young black girl he meets on the beach at Cape Cod during the summer of 1952, he has no idea that his passion for her will lead to the exposure of his father's deepest secrets. The result shatters his family, and hers.

Years later, Hilly sets out to find Savannah and to right the wrongs he set in motion. But can his sense of guilt, and his good intentions, overcome the forces of history, family, and identity?

Told over fifty years, Wise Men is a sweeping story about love and regret, the evolving struggle for racial dignity, and the difficulty of doing the right thing in an unjust world.

'Masterful . . . a resonant and sensitively told story about familial and romantic love' Psychologies

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By San Diego surfer VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having read and enjoyed Stuart Nadler's first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Book of Life, I had high hopes for Wise Men, his first novel. And I was not disappointed in the slightest. Set in Cape Cod, Wise Men is the story of a father, Arthur Wise, and his son, Hilton, who have a complex and difficult relationship. It begins in the late 1940s and Arthur Wise has become very rich, after discovering a way to profit from lawsuits related to aviation accidents and disasters. Hilton is embarrassed by his father's obscene wealth and his many issues, including his racist views.

The novel incorporates two different storylines: the story of Hilton's father and the story of Hilton (or Hilly, as he is nicknamed) himself, who falls into a 'forbidden' love. The story jumps forward into the late '70s and we see the progression and development of Hilton's life, after he becomes a news reporter who focuses on cases of racial friction. Wise Men is narrated by Hilton himself and it is a credit to Nadler's skilful writing that Hilton's voice matures and develops throughout the book. I am eagerly awaiting Nadler's next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good novel. 23 Mar 2013
By Angus Jenkinson VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think that characterizing this as a tale of forbidden love is misleading, and may put off some readers. There are two plotlines. One concerns the relationship of a son with his father, an obsessive, powerful, insanely rich lawyer, developed from childhood until advanced maturity. Angry, embarrassed, dismissive, the son rejects the father's money and affection/control. The second plotline, influenced by the first, is the lifetime impossibility of relationship of the white son with a poor black woman, daughter of an alcoholic never-quite has-been as the result of acts by his father. It's also a discovery of new meanings as age allows the rediscovery of the past in a new light. It's not quite Philip Roth or John Updike but it's a very good novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Jood TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Hilton (Hilly) Wise is the son of wealthy lawyer, Arthur Wise, who made millions suing airlines. It is 1952 when the Wise family, newly rich, move to wealthy Cape Cod, but whilst his parents embrace their new found wealth, Hilly is uncomfortable with it. When, at the age of seventeen, he meets Savannah, the niece of their "houseboy" Lem he cannot know that this will be the start of a lifetime's obsession. His love remains unrequited, but many years later Hilly decides to actively seek her out. I did find this obsession far-fetched and irritating given that he had met Savannah only two or three times, and she certainly wasn't smitten.

This is a very well written novel, with several well-drawn, likeable characters and beautifully descriptive passages. Having said that, I had expected more, based on the blurb: " a sweeping story of love and regret..." I wouldn't describe it as "sweeping" as that implies something much grander than it actually is; as usual the publishers use so much hyperbole, but the book doesn't live up to it. This was a time of great civil unrest in America....race riots and the Vietnam War, for instance, had to have had an effect on the main characters, but there is only the briefest suggestion of these events; this I found disappointing. It is quite a slow read, ponderous at times, and slightly too long, but overall I found the characters and settings appealing enough to keep me going.

Would I read more of this author's work? Yes I probably would.
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3.0 out of 5 stars CASUALTIES OF THE AMERICAN DREAM? 23 Dec 2013
By Mr. D. L. Rees TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ever since 1947, Arthur Wise has been a household name, money rolling in as he champions the cause of aircrash victims. Son Hilly (Hilton) is increasingly uncomfortable by the brash flamboyance and flaunting of wealth. In 1952 friction between the two may inadvertently have caused the death of a coloured employee - the thought to haunt the seventeen year old the rest of his life.

Hilly narrates, he throughout subsequent years determined to distance himself from his dad. He will have nothing to do with that enormous monthly allowance being paid into his bank account. As a humble reporter, he instead mixes with those whose feet are more firmly on the ground. Most of all he wishes to track down the relatives of the deceased and try to make amends.

Considered here are aspects of American life in the second half of the Twentieth Century (attitudes towards religion, colour, material concerns). What too about family ties? Will advancing years help Hilly at last to understand his father, lead to reconciliation or will startling revelations create new barriers?

Thoughts are provoked about the harm done by those with ill-judged priorities, track lost of what is most valuable in life.

The novel's first section had an impact for me not quite matched by what follows. This may be because the most interesting character is killed off so soon. Readers' involvement is likely to be decided by how much they care for the father and son.

Sadly I did not become as involved as hoped.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Updike but very good 17 Oct 2013
By purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
'In the spring of 1947, when I was twelve years old, a passenger plane crashed near Narragansett Bay.'

Stuart Nadler's first novel starts with a plane crash which will change the life of the protagonist, Hilly Wise. His lawyer father, Arthur Wise, is an ambulance chaser but is able to turn a tenuous link to one of the dead passengers into enough clients for a class action suit. The reputation he gain from the big win on this case leads to a meteoric rise in his career and he becomes immensely rich. The Wise family's ordinary life in four rented rooms in New Haven is exchanged for new houses as their prosperity improves. in 1952 Arthur Wise buys a beach house in Bluepoint, Cape Cod near the Kennedy compound, a very lovely 'corner of the world' that comes with a resident servant Lem Dawson. It is Arthur Wise's treatment of Lem that causes a large shift in their father/son relationship. Lem is black, capable and an artist but is called 'boy' by Arthur whose own rags to riches story has left him keen to impress in his nouveau riche lifestyle.. Part I of the novel centres on a summer at Cape Cod as Hilly observes his father at work, his increasingly distant mother reinventing herself and forms friendship of sorts with Lem and fall in love with Savannah, Len's niece.

Hilly's relationship with his father and his unrequited love for Lem's niece, Savannah, is at the core of this novel. In Part II, twenty years have passed and in the 1970s Hilly has become a reporter 'tracking down racial intimidation, violence, voter suppression,' still filled with guilt over the events of that summer, and still hoping to meet Savannah again.
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