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Customer Review

The people in this novel are mostly quite rich, well-upholstered, often mildly dislikeable, but often intriguing too. One doesn't much care about what happens to them, since what can happen to moneyed, privileged New Yorkers? There are touchstones in the form of people - Danielle, a documentary producer for an independent company, who embarks on an affair with a married man; Marina, one of the most dislikeable characters, lifelong friend to Danielle, although she is a whiner, and has an inflated sense of her own abilities and self-importance, and who marries during the course of the novel, the clever, mercurial, even rather reptilian Ludovic Seeley, an Australian in New York to start a new cultural/political magazine designed to shoot down a few shibboleths and monuments along the way. Then there is Julius, gay friend of Danielle and Marina, who has just ended a relationship as the novel opens - who comes complete with a coke-habit, is a writer of acerbic reviews but is worried that all his early promise has dissipated without the acclaim his intellect deserves.

Messud's character creation is adroit, clever and accomplished, though the more sympathetic characters are more minor ones - mothers, wives, children, whose stories are background rather than foreground. Though the cover makes a point of it, the Twin Towers disaster only happens towards the end of the novel, when the business of betrayal among the elite has almost run its course.

I found this an enjoyable read, if a little anodyne in part, mainly because of the monumental self-involvement of all but a few of the characters. The tragedy of reaching thirty without the book written, the man married, the name made or boosted satisfactorily, is thrown into relief by the disaster of the Twin Towers, but Messud has no political axe to grind and the bewilderment and fear it engenders is not overplayed.
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Product Details

2.8 out of 5 stars
26
2.8 out of 5 stars
£9.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime