About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#88: Dune Road

Dune Road, by Jane Green (New York: Viking, 2009)

"Set in Connecticut's tony Gold Coast town of Highfield, Dune Road tells the story of Kit Hargrove, whose divorce has granted her a new lease on life. No longer a Wall Street widow with the requisite diamond studs and Persian rugs, Kit revels in her clapboard Cape with the sea green shutters and sprawling impatiens. Her kids are content, her ex cooperative, her friends steadfast, and each morning she wakes up unable to believe how lucky she is to have landed the job of her dreams: assisting the blockbuster novelist Robert McClore.

"A mysterious tragedy drove this famous writer into seclusion decades ago, and few besides Kit are granted access to his house at the top of Dune Road, with its breathtaking views of Long Island Sound. But that is all about to change. At a rare appearance at the local bookstore, McClore meets Kit's new friends Tracy, whose weakness for older men rivals her powers of self-reinvention. Are the secret visits of her boss's new muse as innocent as Kit would like to believe? When a figure from her mother's past emerges with equally cryptic intentions just as the bear financial market is upending her best friend's life, Kit discovers that her blissfully constructed idyll -- and the gorgeous man who has walked into it with creamy white roses -- isn't as perfect as she'd thought. Ties to friends and family are further reaching than she had realized -- and more crucial than ever before."

Opening Line:
"One of the unexpected bonuses of divorce, Kit Hargrove realizes, as she settles onto the porch swing, curling her feet up under her and placing a glass of chilled wine on the wicker table, is having weekends without the children, weekends when she gets to enjoy this extraordinary peace and quiet, remembers who she was before she became defined by motherhood, by the constant noise and motion that come with having a thirteen-year-old and an eight-year-old."

My Take:
First off, it's been fun, but I really need to take a break from the chick lit, summer beach read genre for a while. The last few story lines are all starting to blend together.

Another solid read that may not be great literature but was engaging enough for the day or so it took to read it. Dune Road is another Great Recession-themed novel in the tradition of Hedge Fund Wives, though the richest character here (Kit's best friend Charlie) still wouldn't qualify to socialize or even shop with the obscenely wealthy HFWs in that book. While Kit herself isn't really affected by the recession (rock star writers actually do better when times are tough, the book suggests, as books and movies are one of the few luxuries people can still afford), Charlie is in a big way; husband Kevin loses his big Wall Street job with nearly everyone else in the company, and the family's long-standing habit of living way beyond their means catches up with them with a vengeance (i.e., losing the house and moving in with the in-laws).

That's not, however, the main plot of the book, which centers first and foremost around Kit. While she gets on unusually well with ex-husband Adam, who still lives in town, the divorce still feels like the right decision; Adam's a Wall St. whiz himself and was rarely around anyway, and if it weren't for the divorce and move, she'd never have met Edie, the 80-something neighbor who's become the mom she always wanted and even ended up getting Kit her job. To top it off, things are looking up on the romantic front, since new gal pal/ yoga instructor Tracy managed to set her up with the hunky, new-in-town Steve. Edie's suspicious, but Kit is utterly charmed by the roses and perfume.

Unfortunately, their first big dinner date is postponed when Steve arrives at Kit's and finds a mysterious letter on her doorstep ... which turns out to be an introduction from Annabel, the English half-sister she never knew she had, who's conveniently visiting in Highfield in hopes of finally meeting her. Annabel, too, manages to charm not only Kit but her whole family -- particularly ex-husband Adam. The only skepticism comes from Kit's mother, Ginny -- who's never been much the maternal sort anyway, and hasn't even seen Annabel since her birth (all her info comes from Annabel's father, John).

The big questions: Why is Tracy being so secretive lately, both about her budding relationship with Robert and her big business expansion/ investment plan? Is Steve really as good as he seems, or is Edie on to something? What's going to happen to Charlie and her family if they lose everything? And, of course, will Kit and Adam get back together in the end? Some of the answers are predictable, and others less so. If you're at all intrigued, this one's worth a read.

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