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Set in New York in 2001, Abbott's debut novel invites us into the lives of good people grappling with the hard choices and the sacrifices they must make to find love. In the manner of a contemporary Edith Wharton, Shirley Abbott exposes the inner lives and the tangled relationships of eight characters—before and after New York's tragedy—and forces both them and the reader to see the world in a new way.

Having assembled a smart, compelling ensemble, reminiscent of HBO's Six Feet Under, Abbott allows us to see the possibility of happiness even as the city itself is tested. With humor and profound empathy, she has crafted a novel that runs deep into the heart of our need for commitment from friends, lovers, and family.
Published: Workman eBooks on
ISBN: 9781565126404
List price: $23.95
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This book tells the story of eight different couples, and the various choices, sacrifices, and struggles that they each encounter in finding and keeping love. It shows each of the people both before and after the 9/11 New York Tragedy. The characters were easy to relate to, even though at times it was hard to follow. It was interesting to see how the differences in the relationships, and even how each person interacted with each other, post 9/11. Even though you don’t realize how something like that could impact personal relationships and love, it truly does. Some of the characters were not fully developed or followed as much as I would have liked for them to have been. I would have liked to know more about each of the people, but there’s only so much information that you can fit inside a book. This may have been Abbott’s debut novel, but I would definitely look for other novels written by her.more
This novel covers about a year in the lives of several characters in New York City and the Catskills, with 9/11 occurring right in the middle. Each chapter is about a particular character, but the older couple, Sam and Antonia, are the most fully developed, followed by Maggie and Mark, a young couple with serious marital angst. I never felt like putting the book down for good, but at the same time the parts of the book that did not ring true were difficult to enjoy. The author was much more effective with the characters' internal dialogue than conversations among the characters. There were stilted sentences, including much use of the words "you must" coming from the mouth of a small child. The words did not sound like those that a child would use. Also, some of the dialogue was more like lectures being delivered from one character to another. There was a lot to like about the book for an older reader. Sam and Antonia were 70-ish lovers who found romance at a time when most younger people assume it is impossible. And I liked some of the talk about the trials of getting older - my favorite quote being from Sam's thoughts: "Aging was a police state. You never knew when the goons would knock at the door and carry you off to some torture chamber or other. Why dwell on it?" For those who are not strangers to the medical system in the United States, this seems an apt description. The book could not do justice to all the characters, making some of them seem more like charicatures. There was the gay male dancer, the very odd Southern Baptist daughter of Jewish parents, the older couple, the younger couple, the passionate, empathic mistress, the bi-racial lesbian couple. But within each relationship the author captured much truth and understanding, and it was certainly a realistic look at the undercurrent of uncertainty and discontent that many couples experience.more
Dealing with multiracial gay couples, aging, unhappy marriages and adultery, in a multi generational family, this novel takes place in NYC, during the few years surrounding 9-11. While the 2 marriages and the conflicts caused by their affairs are the primary focus groups within the novel there is a gay couple with a dying partner and a lesbian couple planning and holding a committment ceremony. When you add the idea of an unhappy husband contemplating disappearing in the 9-11 confusion to start a new life with his child's pre-school teacher, this book seems to deal with a few too many issues in the news. Attacking fewer contemporary topics in greater depth would perhaps be more successful. The story is told from the viewpoint of various flat and not too engaging characters in short chapters, and progresses chronologically to a well paced conclusion.more
A book about people struggling through their lives in New York City becomes a September 11th book with very little warning. Two families, interconnected through various ways, are followed through a series of events - pre-, during and post-9/11 - that shape their relationships.The writing style is somewhat jagged. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, and often the narrative gets lost as they tumble into their own thoughts. The characters weren't terribly compelling, and I wanted to root for the cheating spouses more than anyone else.more
This was an interesting yet ultimately disappointing book. The book is about the lives of eight people with various ties to each other, before and after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The relationships between the eight are explored using the device of a different narrator for each chapter. Cliches abound, with the classic responses to homosexuals demonstrated in both male and female couples. The end of the book is especially frustrating, as the reader is left wondering about the different characters. The unemployed stockbroker, his wife and the impact of their new baby on their tenuous relationship is left totally unexplored which is frustrating. In another scenario, a recent widower is finally able to commit to his lover, yet when she has what she has wanted all along, she wavers. Unfortunately, this represents another time-worn cliche: once we have what we want, we don't want it anymore. On the last page, the woman has decided to end the relationship with her widowed lover yet she feels that they are closer than ever. It is a strange contradiction, especially for the last page, that leaves the reader unfulfilled and wondering what the author's purpose for the book truly is. There are just too many unanswered questions for this to be a satisfying read.more
Read all 5 reviews

Reviews

This book tells the story of eight different couples, and the various choices, sacrifices, and struggles that they each encounter in finding and keeping love. It shows each of the people both before and after the 9/11 New York Tragedy. The characters were easy to relate to, even though at times it was hard to follow. It was interesting to see how the differences in the relationships, and even how each person interacted with each other, post 9/11. Even though you don’t realize how something like that could impact personal relationships and love, it truly does. Some of the characters were not fully developed or followed as much as I would have liked for them to have been. I would have liked to know more about each of the people, but there’s only so much information that you can fit inside a book. This may have been Abbott’s debut novel, but I would definitely look for other novels written by her.more
This novel covers about a year in the lives of several characters in New York City and the Catskills, with 9/11 occurring right in the middle. Each chapter is about a particular character, but the older couple, Sam and Antonia, are the most fully developed, followed by Maggie and Mark, a young couple with serious marital angst. I never felt like putting the book down for good, but at the same time the parts of the book that did not ring true were difficult to enjoy. The author was much more effective with the characters' internal dialogue than conversations among the characters. There were stilted sentences, including much use of the words "you must" coming from the mouth of a small child. The words did not sound like those that a child would use. Also, some of the dialogue was more like lectures being delivered from one character to another. There was a lot to like about the book for an older reader. Sam and Antonia were 70-ish lovers who found romance at a time when most younger people assume it is impossible. And I liked some of the talk about the trials of getting older - my favorite quote being from Sam's thoughts: "Aging was a police state. You never knew when the goons would knock at the door and carry you off to some torture chamber or other. Why dwell on it?" For those who are not strangers to the medical system in the United States, this seems an apt description. The book could not do justice to all the characters, making some of them seem more like charicatures. There was the gay male dancer, the very odd Southern Baptist daughter of Jewish parents, the older couple, the younger couple, the passionate, empathic mistress, the bi-racial lesbian couple. But within each relationship the author captured much truth and understanding, and it was certainly a realistic look at the undercurrent of uncertainty and discontent that many couples experience.more
Dealing with multiracial gay couples, aging, unhappy marriages and adultery, in a multi generational family, this novel takes place in NYC, during the few years surrounding 9-11. While the 2 marriages and the conflicts caused by their affairs are the primary focus groups within the novel there is a gay couple with a dying partner and a lesbian couple planning and holding a committment ceremony. When you add the idea of an unhappy husband contemplating disappearing in the 9-11 confusion to start a new life with his child's pre-school teacher, this book seems to deal with a few too many issues in the news. Attacking fewer contemporary topics in greater depth would perhaps be more successful. The story is told from the viewpoint of various flat and not too engaging characters in short chapters, and progresses chronologically to a well paced conclusion.more
A book about people struggling through their lives in New York City becomes a September 11th book with very little warning. Two families, interconnected through various ways, are followed through a series of events - pre-, during and post-9/11 - that shape their relationships.The writing style is somewhat jagged. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, and often the narrative gets lost as they tumble into their own thoughts. The characters weren't terribly compelling, and I wanted to root for the cheating spouses more than anyone else.more
This was an interesting yet ultimately disappointing book. The book is about the lives of eight people with various ties to each other, before and after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The relationships between the eight are explored using the device of a different narrator for each chapter. Cliches abound, with the classic responses to homosexuals demonstrated in both male and female couples. The end of the book is especially frustrating, as the reader is left wondering about the different characters. The unemployed stockbroker, his wife and the impact of their new baby on their tenuous relationship is left totally unexplored which is frustrating. In another scenario, a recent widower is finally able to commit to his lover, yet when she has what she has wanted all along, she wavers. Unfortunately, this represents another time-worn cliche: once we have what we want, we don't want it anymore. On the last page, the woman has decided to end the relationship with her widowed lover yet she feels that they are closer than ever. It is a strange contradiction, especially for the last page, that leaves the reader unfulfilled and wondering what the author's purpose for the book truly is. There are just too many unanswered questions for this to be a satisfying read.more
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