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The Future of Love: A Novel Hardcover – March 25, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
An ensemble of New Yorkers swim the choppy waters of romance, circa autumn 2001, in the first novel from memoirist Abbott (The Bookmaker's Daughter). Having lost his job at an investment firm before September 11, Mark Adler siphons off the pressure through an affair with Sophie, his daughter's 25-year-old nursery school teacher. Mark's older parallel is Sam Mendel, a retired publisher with a sexless marriage and a lavish estate in the country. Sam is resigned to his existence until he meets Mark's mother-in-law, Antonia, and discovers a wholly unexpected erotic reincarnation. The limit to each affair is a devotion—Mark to his daughter, Sam to his estate—but even these are imperiled by 9/11. A deeply melancholic Mark exploits his location that morning (he was praying at Trinity Church before a job interview at the South Tower) to disappear and Sam puts his marriage and estate at risk by shacking up with Antonia downtown. Abbott pursues these and other plots—a lesbian commitment ceremony, a gay dancer's fight with cancer—through third-person perspectives that tie up the interconnections in surprisingly effective strokes. Abbott weaves a delicate tapestry of love and apocalypse. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* Renowned memoirist Abbott debuts as a novelist with a shrewd, polished comedy of manners. Beginning in Manhattan shortly before 9/11 and ending a year later, this witty yet weighty tale is told in eight distinct voices. Antonia, a canny, elegant widow, is trying to help her daughter, who is saddled with a feckless and unfaithful husband, while also looking after her best friends: Greg, an ailing black dancer, and his devoted white lover, Arty. Sam, a famous literary mogul whose wife lives like a lonely queen in their lavish Catskills estate, is in love with Antonia, while his granddaughter is in love with Greg’s niece, and the two women plan a spectacular weddinglike commitment ceremony at Sam’s country manor. As dramatic complications and losses accrue, Abbott opens windows onto all that changes and all that remains the same in love, marriage, class, race, and family life, and considers truth as both a weapon and a key to liberation. Abbott reaches deep psychological strata as she parallels the shocking assault on New York with the ravages of disease and time on the body, and illuminates the fact that everything we construct to keep chaos and darkness at bay can be destroyed in an instant. --Donna Seaman
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Top Customer Reviews
The narrative was engaging, the characters interesting, there were side issues that entertained and enlightened - and surprises. In short, it has all the elements of a successful novel. I look forward to future novels from this writer.
At one point I thought, "The book is like a round of golf." No matter that the characters, with all their foibles, have hooked a drive on the last hole, overshot the green and putted crazily to a five-over-par. With each chapter all hope is refreshed, all chances renewed as they tee up for their next shot. Abbott's range of characters is tremendous: men and women, old and young, white and black, the very microcosm of a somewhat-monied New York. All of them have stumbled. Some are pitiful at times, some clueless, some angry or desperate. They have a fragile grip on confidence and desire, and I would follow them anywhere.
In a chapter from Sam's point of view, we see where his marriage has landed: "Ah, yes. You marry. Then it's children, schools, mortgages, taxes, hard work, and you feel you've got a successful marriage on days when you're speaking to each other. No time or energy to ask why you haven't had sex with your wife for a year, and then five years and then ten. You are a pair...and you hardly know what love is. You hardly know who she is. But you cannot leave her, because that would be dishonorable..."
The dilemmas in this novel often seem irresolvable. And to Abbott's credit, they are not always smoothly resolved. As we hear later about Sam and his lover, Antonia, "You get what you want and don't know what to do with it."
This is the most readable, the most charming, the most incisive, the deadliest novel I have read in years.
This story is about love, but it is no fairy tale romance. So many real relationships are so similar to the ones in this novel and it was refreshing to read a book that portrayed these types of relationships so well. The love affair between Sam and Antonia was an unusual one. It showed that no matter what age you are, there are just certain dynamics of relationships that never change.
Maggie and Mark were in a frustrating relationship that I believe many married couples can relate to. Maggie wanted to best for her daughter, but Mark was too stubborn and selfish to make the best happen.
Also in modern day America, readers get a taste of what marriage really is today. This book explores gay marriage, both with men and women. The novel shows us what love really is and what relationships really are behind closed doors. It also shows us the lives of these lovers at a crucial time in American history.