Monday, July 11, 2016

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

This book has received a lot of hype this summer - and while I'm not sure it deserved it, the story did keep me entertained.

The whole novel takes place essentially over a few months in Brooklyn, NY, though there are both flash backs and a sort of epilogue that takes us out several years in the future (in the form of newspaper articles which was sort of interesting).

The main characters are Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe who were bandmates in college and have lived no more than several houses apart ever since.  Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have one teenaged son, Harry.  Zoe is now married to Jane and they have one teenaged daughter, Ruby, who is the object of Harry's affection.

Elizabeth is now a successful real estate agent, though she could have been a successful songwriter.  Andrew is the son of wealthy Upper East Siders who has contempt for his parents' wealth though he seems to live off of that and his wife's earnings as he drifts from one unsuccessful endeavour to another.  He is rather annoyingly naive as he gets sucked into investing with a former actor turned into the owner of a yoga/meditation/health food studio, only to be "saved" by his wife who enlists Harry and Ruby to spy on him.

Zoe and Jane own a successful restaurant - Zoe is the chef while Jane is in charge of everything else.  Zoe is rather dreamy and artsy while Jane is organized and efficient.  They are having marital difficulties in part due to Zoe's continuing co-dependant relationship with Elizabeth.

The relationship between Harry and Ruby is interesting.  Harry has always been the "good boy"; while Ruby has been involved with skateboarding high school dropouts and has not been able to get into college.  While Harry is clearly smitten, Ruby seems to like him but really be enjoying teaching him the "ways of the world".

The final main character in the book, Lydia, actually died several years before the action takes place.  She was the other band member in college who bought the rights to a song written by Elizabeth and makes it famous.  Part of the story revolves around a film being made about Lydia - the producers are seeking the rights to the song and to the three remaining band members' lives - Andrew is very reluctant as it will reveal long held secrets.

As summer wears on we see the relationships and the characters themselves evolve.  There is not a lot of action, but the people make the book worth reading.

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