I've developed an appreciate for Quindlen's work, and loved her last novel Miller's Valley, set in an insular community in rural Pennsylvania. Her new novel centers on another unique community: a well-to-do corner of the Upper West Side, noteworthy as the only cul-de-sac in Manhattan, and an act of violence that disrupts the easy status quo the residents have (on multiple levels) reached. I appreciated the way Quindlen probed questions of marriage, family, complacency, and class issues, but it was darker than I was expecting. The tone and content reminded me a lot of Emma Straub's Modern Lovers, but with a lot less sex.
The tensions in a tight-knit neighborhood – and a seemingly happy marriage – are exposed by an unexpected act of violence in this provocative new novel from the number-one New York Times best-selling author of Miller’s Valley and Still Life with Bread Crumbs.
Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband, Charlie, lead a charmed life – except when there’s a crisis at work, a leak in the roof at home, or a problem with their twins at college. And why not? New York City was once Nora’s dream destination, and her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor, a tranquil village amid the urban craziness. Then one morning she returns from her run to discover that a terrible incident has shaken the neighborhood, and the fault lines begin to open: on the block, at her job, especially in her marriage. With humor, understanding, an acute eye, and a warm heart, Anna Quindlen explores what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning.