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Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

Ratings:

3.74

(35)
|Views: 2,811|Likes:
Published by WilliamMorrowBooks

"Every story has a narrator. Someone who writes it down after it's all over. Why am I the narrator of this story? I am because it is the story of my life—and of the people I love most. . . ." Harry and Madeleine Winslow have been blessed with talent, money, and charm. Harry is a National Book Award–winning author on the cusp of greatness. Madeleine is a woman of sublime beauty and grace whose elemental goodness and serenity belie a privileged upbringing. Bonded by deep devotion, they share a love that is both envied and admired. The Winslows play host to a coterie of close friends and acolytes eager to bask in their golden radiance, whether they are in their bucolic East Hampton cottage, abroad in Rome thanks to Harry's writing grant, or in their comfortable Manhattan brownstone. One weekend at the start of the summer season, Harry and Maddy, who are in their early forties, meet Claire and cannot help but be enchanted by her winsome youth, quiet intelligence, and disarming naivete. Drawn by the Winslows' inscrutable magnetism, Claire eagerly falls into their welcoming orbit. But over the course of the summer, her reverence transforms into a dangerous desire. By Labor Day, it is no longer enough to remain one of their hangers-on. A story of love, lust, deception, and betrayal as seen through the omniscient eyes of Maddy's childhood friend Walter, a narrator akin to Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, Indiscretion is a juicy, richly textured novel filled with fascinating, true-to-life characters—an irresistibly sensual page-turner that explores having it all and the consequences of wanting more. Indiscretion also marks the debut of a remarkably gifted writer and storyteller whose unique voice bears all the hallmarks of an exciting new literary talent.

"Every story has a narrator. Someone who writes it down after it's all over. Why am I the narrator of this story? I am because it is the story of my life—and of the people I love most. . . ." Harry and Madeleine Winslow have been blessed with talent, money, and charm. Harry is a National Book Award–winning author on the cusp of greatness. Madeleine is a woman of sublime beauty and grace whose elemental goodness and serenity belie a privileged upbringing. Bonded by deep devotion, they share a love that is both envied and admired. The Winslows play host to a coterie of close friends and acolytes eager to bask in their golden radiance, whether they are in their bucolic East Hampton cottage, abroad in Rome thanks to Harry's writing grant, or in their comfortable Manhattan brownstone. One weekend at the start of the summer season, Harry and Maddy, who are in their early forties, meet Claire and cannot help but be enchanted by her winsome youth, quiet intelligence, and disarming naivete. Drawn by the Winslows' inscrutable magnetism, Claire eagerly falls into their welcoming orbit. But over the course of the summer, her reverence transforms into a dangerous desire. By Labor Day, it is no longer enough to remain one of their hangers-on. A story of love, lust, deception, and betrayal as seen through the omniscient eyes of Maddy's childhood friend Walter, a narrator akin to Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, Indiscretion is a juicy, richly textured novel filled with fascinating, true-to-life characters—an irresistibly sensual page-turner that explores having it all and the consequences of wanting more. Indiscretion also marks the debut of a remarkably gifted writer and storyteller whose unique voice bears all the hallmarks of an exciting new literary talent.

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Publish date: Feb 5, 2013
Added to Scribd: Jan 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/17/2013

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P r o l o g u e
t
he
 
Poet
a. e. h
ousman
 
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content,” and how he can never return to the place where hehad once been so happy.When I was younger, I greatly admired the poem’s senti-ment because I was not old enough to realize how banal it was.The young invariably cherish their youth, incapable o imag-ining lie past thirty. The notion that the past is more idyllic isabsurd, however. What we remember is our innocence, strong limbs, physical desire. Many people are shackled by their pastand are unable to look ahead with any degree o condencebecause they not only don’t believe in the uture, they don’treally believe in themselves.But that doesn’t prevent us rom casting a roseate glow overour memories. Some memories burn brighter, whether be-cause they meant more or because they have assumed greater
 
c h a r l e s d u b o w
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importance in our minds. Holidays blur together, snowstorms,swimming in the ocean, acts o love, holding our parents’hands when we are very small, great sadnesses. But there ismuch we orget too. I have orgotten so much— names, aces,brilliant conversations, days and weeks and months, things I vowed never to orget, and to ll in the gaps, I confate the pastor make it up entirely. Did that happen to me or to someoneelse? Was that me who broke his leg skiing in Lech? Did I runrom the carabinieri ater a drunken night in Venice? Placesand actions that seem so real can be entirely alse, based purelyon impressions o a story told at the time and then somehowsubconsciously woven into the abric o our lives. Ater a while it becomes real.

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melissarochelle_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
While the story kept me turning the pages, I wasn't crazy about the narration -- it's told from an outsider's perspective, which is fine, it just didn't always work for me. There were times when I was taken out of the story because I thought, "How in the world could Walter know THAT?!" By the end of the book, I had my answer which is why this is a 4-star instead of 3-star rating.[spoiler]The end of the book is devastating. We are given a false ending -- a happy ever after -- and then it's ripped away. That was just Walter's dream. It was truly heartbreaking to read about Maddy's last years. [end spoiler]
whitreidtan reviewed this
Rated 2/5
The Great Gatsby is a classic with its unreliable narrator and its old money and its devastation and unavoidable tragedy. In Charles Dubow's debut novel, there are shades of Fitzgerald's masterpiece but the characters are more obvious and the tale and its presentation nothing special. It is no Great Gatsby. I really wanted to be wowed by this clear homage to one of my favorite books of all time, wanted to impressed like almost every other reviewer I've read so far. Instead I was bored and found myself getting angry and annoyed as I read along.Harry and Maddy Winslow are a golden couple with the sort of charisma and glow in which everyone in their orbit wants to bask. Their marriage is perfect and their love for each other comfort in each others' presence, and contentment with their lives is palpable. Until it isn't. Because this is the tale of Harry, former college hockey standout, ace former military pilot, novelist and recent National Book Award Winner; and Maddy, gracious, effortless, extremely beautiful, and monied; and what happens when Harry, wanting more than the perfection he already seems to have, embarks on a completely pedestrian affair and devastates his own, his wife, and his fragile son's lives. Narrated by Maddy's childhood friend, the noble Walter, who has loved Maddy forever but has long settled back and contented himself with the reflected glow of the Winslow's enviable love and family, this is a story told long after the fact, pieced together by information left behind, things written by Harry, secondhand observation, speculations, and confidences made to Walter both at the time and after the events. Even though Walter was in fact one of the spectators of the situation, his relationship and loyalty to Maddy, plus the torch he has carried for her close on to forty some odd years, makes him suspect, obviously biased, in the telling.One summer, twenty-six year old Claire is invited out to the Hamptons to stay with her wealthy, occasional boyfriend, Clive. While there she comes into the Winslows' orbit and falls for both of them, but especially for Harry. Given that she was dissatisfied with Clive, who admittedly is a jerk, when she arrived, it is no surprise that this callous and selfish young woman is eager and willing to be pulled into the Winslow's golden sphere. She ingratiates herself and starts being invited to come out to spend weekends with them, to frolic and play and generally have an enchanted time. Like Maddy, Claire is exceptionally beautiful in the way of youth but unlike Maddy, Claire does not come from money and she is enticed by all its trappings, setting her sights on Harry and even making an overt pass at him that he easily deflects. But because this is a tale of infidelity or "indiscretion," it is clear that Claire will in fact get her way even if it has to be delayed. And from the moment that Harry ends up in bed with this nubile, young thing, it is broadcast loud and clear where this novel is heading. There is no nuance, no surprise, and little anticipation.Claire is a predator from the outset, using Clive and then easily dropping him for the more enticing prey of Harry. It almost makes the reader sorry for the ghastly, boorish Clive and certainly reeks of "come into my parlour said the spider to the fly" once Claire has set her sights on Harry. That is to say the outcome is entirely inevitable. Everything in the novel is completely, expectedly inevitable. It's a cliched situation without enough depth to the characters or the plot to rescue the whole. In fact, there really is no plot at all and as a character study, an anatomy of an affair, or a psychological look at the cost of infidelity, it is nothing special or new. The characters are unsympathetic. The writing is florid and overwrought. The dialogue is clunky and stilted. Harry and Claire's affair is boring to read about and the minute details of their sexual exploits were unappealing. Their overly introspective pillow talk had all the emotional range of giddy, immature teenagers and Claire's constant assertions that she never wanted to hurt Maddy but that she just couldn't give up Harry and Harry's reciprocal agreement would be better suited to high schoolers than to adults, one in her later twenties and one in his early forties.And because I was already not enjoying the novel, every little thing jumped out at me and made me angrier. Dubow uses the metaphor of a dress rehearsal at one point but suggests that the similarity is like seeing the seats empty and the actors in their street clothes on stage. Um... That's not a dress rehearsal. And yes, that's a nit-pick on my part but this sort of thing is endemic. In giving birth to their son Johnny, Maddy is whisked away for an emergency episiotomy and a frantic Harry is kept from her because of this procedure. Another um... Having had one of these myself many a year ago, this is emphatically not how they are handled, not even close. Yes, more nit-picking but the devil is in the details. And frankly, I am bothered by the portrayal of Harry as unable and unwilling to stop Claire when she finally does seduce him. The rest of the novel is predicated on the fact that he was as attracted to her from the outset as she was to him but in reality, he was drunk and severely jetlagged when she took him back to her apartment and he does actually protest and try to stop before he is carried away by the wave of passion (which makes him come across as stupid and ruled solely by his penis, a whole new portrayal of him born in that exact moment). This does not absolve him of any guilt, mind you, since he inexplicably wakes up the next day not wracked with guilt but insatiable for Claire and ridiculously, completely smitten especially given his feelings just a day prior but it absolves him of any of the calculatedness in cheating that is assumed as the novel continues; it was never a decision for Harry, only one for Claire. Of course, because this is a novel about a continuing affair and not just a one night stand, we get more sweaty foreplay and slick sex between these two. We get the sloppily covered tracks, the weak and easily uncovered lies, and we get the damaging discovery of truth and the shamed acknowledgement of betrayal. In short, we get the story of every infidelity ever. We recognize the fall-out. And we know that there can be no happy endings.I seem to be alone in my dislike of the book and everyone else is so captivated they never noticed the writing problems or the inconsistencies in the characters or any of the numerous things that got my back up. I'd love for someone I know to read this and tell me what you think. I may just be alone on this one. So far I sure seem to be.
nomadreader_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
The basics: Indiscretion is the story of Maddy and Harry Winslow. Harry is a National Book Award-winning author, while Maddy is beautiful, smart and kind. They're a couple revered by all who know them, and the two love to entertain at their home in the Hamptons and at their New York City brownstone. Yet as the title indicates, the marriage may not be quite as strong as it appears.My thoughts: Indiscretion is an intelligent vacation read. There are elements of an upper-class soap opera, but there are also elements of high-brow literature. The combination works well and keeps the novel from becoming either too serious or too frivolous. This novel also sits somewhere between thriller and domestic fiction. Adding intrigue to the story, the narrator of this novel is Walter, Maddy's childhood friend. With this choice, Dubow creates a sense of mystery. Why is Walter, a secondary character, telling the story? And how does he know the private details of their lives? Dubow's answers to these questions were incredibly satisfying and elevate this novel above its salaciousness. As much as I enjoyed it and celebrate its release, part of me wishes it were coming out in May, as I loved experiencing this novel as a vacation read, so I recommend you take it on an airplane too. The verdict: Indiscretion is a fun escapist read. It's a window into the life of New York affluence, an admired marriage, and the career of a National Book Award-winning author. Intrigue, salaciousness, scandal, love, and suspense abound in the lives of this couple and their circle of friends. Rating: 4 out of 5
gary237 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Charles Dubow's first novel, Indiscretion, is a great story beautifully written. Although the plot will be familiar to most readers from first or second hand experience, the characters' actions defy any preconceived notions. They are fully developed people who make decisions and live through consequences in a realistic, rational, and human way. Readers are drawn into the lives of the characters by a likable narrator, Walter, a partner in a prosperous New York law firm who inherited a fortune from his parents.Walter, in his 40s at the beginning of the story, is a bachelor by circumstances rather than confirmation. During the summer, he lives in his deceased parents' house near the beach in the Hamptons. He lives in his parents' apartment in New York during the winter months. Harry, a best-selling author, and his wife Maddy, a lifelong friend of Walter, and son Johnny live in the summer house next door to Walter. Maddy inherited the house from her parents, and she and Walter share memories and affection from growing up, children to adults, during their summers in the Hamptons.Walter describes Harry and Maddy as a perfect couple, even though he has always wanted a permanent relationship with Maddy. Walter did not measure up to the charisma and talent of Harry that drew Maddy to the author and caused her to marry hiim. With their son, the family seems invulnerable especially with the loving support of many close friends who want to share in their summer lives. Walter learns that people who have everything they ever wanted may try to go beyond the limits of their good fortune risking destruction of their ideal existence, breaking their fragile bonds with one another.The reader will form a bond with Walter and rely on his observations of events in the story. I trusted Walter's reliability as a witness and he kept me informed of his strengths and weaknesses as an observer. Walter continually evaluated himself as a man and showed me that his perceptions were affected by his selfless love for Maddy. Walter reminds me of Archie McNally (son of a wealthy lawyer living in Florida) a character in a series written by one of my favorite authors, Lawrence Sanders. Both characters are likable, intelligent, sensitive, and caring. Archie, a discreet private investigator, has a better sense of humor than Walter and is more of a bon vivant than Dubow's tried and true lawyer. But, I loved Indiscretion as much as I did the novels of Sanders Lawrence Sander's McNally's Folly: An Archy McNally Novel. My guess is that Dubow will continue using Walter as a narrator in future novels because most of character's lifespan is covered in this book.
vcg610 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is a literary tale that will stay in your memory for a long, long while. It is the anatomy of the dissolution of a marriage, which follows a more or less spontaneous act of adultery between one of the two married people and a young friend of the family. The connection between the two proves to be electric; so powerful in its intensity that it leads to a prolonged love affair, that the two naively believe can go indefinitely without discovery.Like so many married people who risk literally everything, for the thrill and pleasures gained from an illicit affair, this husband rationalizes that he doesn't love his family less, he just has added a secret lover to fill a void in his life that he hadn't previously realized was there.The story is told from the perspective of the life long friend of the wronged spouse. A successful lawyer and friend of both the husband Harry and his wife Madeline, he can tell the story of each participant in the love triangle from personal knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. Walter, the narrator, and Maddy grew up on adjacent properties in the Hamptons, both children of wealthy and privileged families. Maddy and Walter went to Yale, where Maddy and Harry, a popular athlete met and eventually married.Maddy has become a charming hostess. She loves cooking and often entertains weekend guests at the family's summer home in the Hamptons. Harry, just as charming as Maddy, is a gregarious host who genuinely loves his wife and nine year old son. Walter, who still lives in the home where he was raised on the adjacent property, is a frequent guest and observer of the Winslows and their house guests. In their early 40's, Harry and Madeline are happy, secure in their wealth and talents. Harry is a respected prize winning author. Maddy's family money provides a steady income which compensates for the uneven income flow from writing and publishing.But one summer one of their acquaintances brings a winsome young woman as his date to one of the Winslow parties. Both Harry and Maddy are captivated by her youth and confidence and enthusiasm for life. She soon breaks off with the man who had brought her into the Winslow circle, but she manages to become a part of their summer entourage, fitting in very comfortably in spite of the age difference. Clare is a writer too, and is gradually drawn to make a play for Harry. He does not immediately succumb to the temptation, but when he does, he is a wholehearted participant.Dubow has created a superb story teller in Walter, who is excellent at telegraphing the motives of Claire, contrasting them to the nuances and responses of Harry and eventually Maddy's reaction when she comes to know of the affair. Though Walter admits (to us) that he has always loved Maddy, he tries to help salvage the marriage, which he knows has been a good one.There is much to enjoy in this tale, but it in essence is a tragedy, as consequences few could have foreseen develop from a betrayal meant to be forever secret, and thus harmless in its effect on Harry's loved ones. This book reminds me of House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, another tragic story so very well told.
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