From Publishers Weekly
Hedges's first novel in more than a decade reads a lot like Tom Perrotta minus the satire or Jonathan Tropper with less humor, but Hedges's excellent characterization and writing render it a worthy outing. Tim Welch and Kate Oliver are happily married, living the urban dream in Brooklyn Heights, until the wealthy and beautiful Anna Brody moves in nearby, forcing them to question if happiness is enough. Anna's arrival coincides with the forced retirement of Tim's father, a celebrated women's basketball coach, due to a sexual scandal; a lucrative job for Kate; and the reappearance of Kate's former love, now a television star. And while the entire neighborhood is fascinated with Anna, it's Tim and Kate she pulls into her orbit—intent on taking Tim as a lover—causing the seams of their marriage to fray and forcing them into situations they never would have predicted for themselves, even if the reader isn't exactly surprised at how things play out. The plot tends toward busy, but Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape
) keeps it under control, his sympathetically real characters holding down the novel's solid center. (Mar.)
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Kate and Tim tell the story of their practically perfect life (he’s a history teacher in a posh private school; she’s a stay-at-home mom) in alternating chapters. Brooklyn Heights, their neighborhood, rife with social strata, rules, and conventions, is rocked by a newcomer, Anna Brody, the beautiful, mysterious wife of a very wealthy man who latches onto the couple. Then, when opportunities impel Kate back to work, Tim becomes the at-home parent, ostensibly at work on his long-delayed dissertation. An old flame of Kate’s, now a TV star, stirs up more mischief, while Bea, a student of Tim’s with a crush, offers her perspective. Ultimately, deceptions replace perfect openness. Hedges, of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1991) fame, demonstrates a sure touch with people and settings. The somewhat predictable outcomes are ameliorated by the charm of his characters and his obvious fondness for them. While Hedges’ use of the old-fashioned convention of beginning chapters with a variation on “ if only I had known” can be tiresome, this is an enjoyable novel of modern manners. --Danise Hoover