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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and death
I've read McInerney's Brightness Falls twice, and greatly enjoyed its portrayal of a specific historical event (the stock market crash of 1987) and its impact on Russell and Corrine, a stylish, likeable but flawed couple, and their friends and life in Manhattan. In this book, he places them in the path of an even bigger event, and traces out their trajectories as their...
Published on 17 July 2008 by Jeremy Walton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Madness in Manhattan
Domestic squabbles involving bored, betrayed and battered well-off middle-aged Manhattanites set against the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade center in New York. The author does not try to recreate the devastating attack or the immediate aftermath and the damage and horror is expressed more in terms of its effect on the characters, their fear for the...
Published on 30 Jun 2009 by John Fitzpatrick


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and death, 17 July 2008
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
I've read McInerney's Brightness Falls twice, and greatly enjoyed its portrayal of a specific historical event (the stock market crash of 1987) and its impact on Russell and Corrine, a stylish, likeable but flawed couple, and their friends and life in Manhattan. In this book, he places them in the path of an even bigger event, and traces out their trajectories as their lives are shattered and remodelled in the wake of September 11. He brings back a few other characters from the earlier book, but also introduces some new ones - retired investment banker Luke, his socialite wife Sasha and their unstable teenaged daughter Ashley.

It's not hard to guess what the role of Luke is going to turn out to be as he stumbles up West Broadway, away from the nightmare of ash, smoke and death, and encounters Corrine, who offers him "a bottle of Evian" (even in moments of crisis, McInerney's knack for product placement doesn't falter). And, from that point onwards, the event fades into the background as we concentrate on their relationship. On the whole, this is probably a wise move, since writing more directly about the cataclysm and its aftermath is probably too challenging to pull off convincingly.

And McInerney deftly traces out the themes of desire, betrayal, duty and fidelity in a way that's thoroughly engrossing, particularly when he gives us Corrine's point of view. Only at the very end does he bring the story full circle with an elegaic connection between the way in which this all started, and the way it ends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling..., 12 July 2013
This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
I am always slightly sceptical about sequels and follow-up novels as I often feel let down by the second outing. 'Brightness Falls' blew me away with its effortless narrative and witty prose, and thankfully 'The Good Life' had the same effect.

It was interesting to see how McInerney used the 9/11 disaster to show the change in his two main characters, and their new, more grown-up approach to life in New York City. The partying and professional aspirations written about in 'Brightness Falls' are now replaced by parenthood and financial struggle.

For me, it was hard to deal with the introduction of Luke McGavock and the effect he had on Corrine. The story was less focused on Russell Calloway - a favourite character of mine - and more concerned with infidelity and the affair between Corrine and Luke.

However, this was still an extremely compelling read and I had no idea how McInerney would end it. The final chapter had me so gripped, my face so close to the pages, that I could almost smell Luke's aftershave.

This is another wonderful McInerney novel, and another must-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Madness in Manhattan, 30 Jun 2009
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
Domestic squabbles involving bored, betrayed and battered well-off middle-aged Manhattanites set against the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade center in New York. The author does not try to recreate the devastating attack or the immediate aftermath and the damage and horror is expressed more in terms of its effect on the characters, their fear for the future and how they can recreate their shattered lives. Since most of their lives were already emotionally shattered the attacks serve to provide them with an excuse to start again. The result is a series of doomed affairs and attempts to rebuild bridges to their children and other relatives.
The book is worth reading and although it has some dramatic and melodramatic scenes, the overall tone is rather subdued. Much of the ending even takes place far from New York, in Tennessee, although this part comes over as rather trite.
Overall, the book is like one of those Woody Allen films or the Seinfeld TV show in which grown adults living in New York act like silly adolescents and you wonder if they will ever grow up. If you have read McInerney's most famous books "Brightness Falls" (in which some of the characters of The Good Life appear) or Bright Lights, Big City you'll know what I mean.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Life, 7 April 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful sequel to Brightness Falls. It gives insight into how New Yorkers reacted to 9/11, as well as raising the larger question as to how life should be lived. The characters are beautifully drawn and observed, and the writing seemingly effortless. I thoroughly recommend this novel. Fans will not be disappointed and new readers will be enthralled.
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2.0 out of 5 stars better than brightness falls, 23 July 2013
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This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
I couldn't get the appraisal of another review out of my head comparing this to mills and boon. It is quite readable but comes across as nothing more than a romance novel with literary pretensions. The descriptions of sex are still cringeworthy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sad, perfect, 14 Sep 2011
By 
Frootle (Canterbury, Kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
Ah! Finally! A good book! Don't worry: I've had it stuffed and mounted on my wall. Beautiful, simply-structured, sparsely written account of New York couples struggling with the real and manufactured emotions after 9/11. Effortless and readable. And a perfect ending. Funny, sad, perfect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another 9/11 novel, 29 Oct 2009
By 
MJA Smith (Milton Keynes & London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Good Life (Paperback)
Very often a book comes along which you can't put down; more rarely is it the case where you become bitterly disappointed when a book finishes, and that's how I felt at the conclusion of Jay McInerney's 'The Good Life'.

'The Good Life' is nominally a sequel to 'Brightness Falls' but works equally well as a standalone book. Readers of 'Brightness Falls' will not feel like McInerney is reintroducing the nuances of characters excessively while first-time readers will feel like they know the key characters within just a few pages.

The key theme of this book is the degradation of relationships as people move into middle age. For anyone who's been through relationship counselling or ultimately separation and divorce the decriptions of widening distance in a relationship will be all too familiar. The whole thing is framed by the loss of friends in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the guilt - towards those they have lost, their spouses and their kids - felt by Corrinne Calloway and Luke McGavock as they begin a tentative affair among the rubble and devastation of the World Trade Center.

Like most books set in Manhattan, the city itself and its restaurants, bars and overlapping societal groupings feature large, almost as another character in the dialogue. Whilst the tragedy of 9/11 looms over the story overall, this shouldn't be regarded as just another of the many books documenting the impact on individuals and families of that tragic day.

Like all McInerney novels, this is essential.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING, ENTHRALLING, AND POIGNANT, 31 Jan 2006
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Life (Hardcover)
With a New Yorker's heart and masterly pen Jay McInerney has crafted an unforgettable tale of a city and its people. It's a story headline fresh and fraught with the qualities that define our human predicament - some noble, others base. An astute observer, McInerney has a unique sense of New York City, bringing its streets and zip codes to midday vibrancy or nocturnal rest. He captures the quiddity of characters with a portraitist's skill; his brush strokes are glances, expressions, and words.
Describing Manhattan as "an existential town, in which identity was a function of professional accomplishment," McInerney introduces two families. Corrine and Russell Calloway share their Tribeca loft with 6-year-old twins, a daughter and son. Yearning for all that motherhood had to offer, Corrine quit her job which left a rather desultory Russell to be the family breadwinner. Now at work on a screenplay, Corrine is hoping to augment the family's dwindling bank account.
Sasha and Luke McGavock live on the Upper East Side with their 14-year-old going on 20 daughter, Ashley. Sasha is gorgeous, immaculately groomed, often wearing gowns loaned to her by Oscar (we needn't say Oscar who) and a constant presence at all the important charity benefits. Who people are, what they have, what they're saying about her - this is what matters to Sasha.
Luke is the son of a Tennessee minister who has amassed a fortune as a financial expert. He recently left his job, feeling the need to reassess his direction in life. Now, that he's at home he is acutely aware that his daughter has gleefully adopted all the extravagances of her mother and then some. He had failed to notice this, among other things, "while he was so single-mindedly pursuing his career, bring home the prosciuto."
As chance would have it, he has made a breakfast date with his good friend, Guillermo Rezzori. The year is 2001 and they're to meet at Windows on the World at 8:00 a.m., but Luke leaves a voicemail canceling their September 11 meeting. Guillermo, along with a host of others, is lost in the devastating attack.
Remorseful and unhappy that he and Sasha could not reach out to each other during this time of tragedy, Luke volunteers at a makeshift soup kitchen set up at Ground Zero for the firemen and other rescue workers. There, under the direction of Jerry, "a hulking , bullet-headed carpenter" he sets to his tasks, and meets Corrine. She, too, has sought solace in giving herself over to feeding others.
Their attraction is almost immediate, brought together by a cataclysmic event and disappointment in their marriages. McInerney's pictures of daily life by Ground Zero are unforgettable as we see how the tragedy affected the lives of a group of very different people. Their camaraderie is touching; their struggles to overcome sear.
New York City is this author's turf, his sharp eye misses nothing. With "The Good Life" McInerney has captured forever a time and a place. It is a story of love and loss. And just as the aftershock of 9/11 reached each of us, it is in one way or another our story, too. We could not have found a better voice to tell it.
- Gail Cooke
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 21 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life (Hardcover)
In this tale of love and infidelity in the aftermath of 9/11, fashionable Manhattanites Corrine Calloway and Luke McGavock embark on an adulterous affair and are forced to confront painful questions of familial responsibility, personal fulfilment and the need for social affirmation.
Told with a characteristic light touch, in prose that is funny, poignant and always utterly compelling, the novel poses the ultimate question: In the shadow of death, what is the essence of the good life?
This weighty topic is something of a departure for McInerney, who is best known for his mordant social satire of the rich and famous. But he carries off the task with extraordinary aplomb. While his eye for ironic detail is as keen as ever, he proves that he has matured to a storyteller of the highest order, capable of conveying the magnificence, tragedy and absurdity of the human condition. A masterpiece.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought-provoking, 13 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Life (Hardcover)
I couldn't put this book down. Very well-written; the characters, with all their imperfections - many of which I could relate to - come to life. In short, I loved it. It falls short of 5 stars simply because the plot stops flowing smoothly in the last third of the novel and because ... I didn't feel satisfied when I finished it. Or perhaps that's just because I didn't want the book to end?
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The Good Life
The Good Life by Jay McInerney (Paperback - 5 Feb 2007)
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