Spoiler: there is nothing erudite or morally upright here.
I don’t read too much mass market stuff, but my curiosity was piqued to find this one from 2001 recommended and highlighted in 2018 by local librarians. I remember this book causing a stir back then, and that I had known people that had loved it. It was intriguing that a librarian was still encouraging people to read this, so I picked it up. For the first half of the book I thought I’d only give it three stars, and wouldn’t review it here, but by the end, it had inched its way up to four stars. I’m sure I will remember it clearly, as the librarian seems to as well.
This is a story set in the mansions on the “Gold Coast” (the north shore of Long Island) where two neighbors from different backgrounds clash and implode. One of those houses patrician blue-bloods of high society, and the other, a Mafia Don and his family. The novel serves as a cautionary tale in many ways, as well as a study in human nature.
It reminded me of a story people tell of a frog in boiling water. If you put a frog in boiling water, it would jump out. But if you put him in cold water, and very gradually turn up the temperature, you can boil him alive, unwittingly. That’s what happens here. It is a long book (500 pages in this hardcover), with a slow build, but it takes you where you would not have expected to go.
There was added interest for me, having rubbed shoulders with all these types when working in construction in Manhattan, and knowing well some of the settings and places described. Also, some of the annoyingly excessive scenes in the first half of the book, felt balanced off and important for setting the stage by the end of the book. Additionally, this old library book still had that amazingly real, thick cotton paper, which deliciously added to my reading experience in a way I had not realized I have so missed.
This book is not only a well written diversion, but it just might backhandedly help you appreciate your uneventful, ordinary life.