Published by Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 978-080509846
Hardcover, $25, 320 pages
The Plot: Claire Byrne is married to Charlie, a reknowned sexologist, author of many books on the subject. One day, he is killed by a huge statue falling from a crane on Fifth Avenue in New York. Claire finds herself a widow in her 30s and completely lost as to what to do next.
She goes to two different therapists, visits psychics and even follows a griot, a storyteller who travels the city sharing stories about famous New York City dwellers, to try and find her way to a new life. Then she meets Jack Huxley, the notoriously heterosexual movie star whom every woman wants, and has some sort of relationship with him.
Throughout the novel, Claire shares the rules she is learning about sex and dating for widows, like
Rule #34- "Never discourage anyone who continues to make progress, no matter how slow" (Plato)
Rule #29- A boy says, "Have a good trip", a man says "Call me when you land."
Short & Sweet Review: I loved Carole's emotional and moving memoir What Remains, about losing her young husband to cancer and her two best friends, John F. Kennedy and his wife Carolyn in a plane crash. It is a brilliant book, and so I was interested to see what her fiction would be like.
This is definitely a book for anyone who loves to immerse themselves in the wealthy NYC culture; those who religiously watch The Real Housewives of New York City will love it (and Radziwill is a cast member of that show).
Claire is an interesting character, a little snarky, and her journey through widowhood (the depression, the setups with widowers forty years older) rings true. She is trying to find her place after being in the shadow of her famous husband, what her friend describes as "Charlie's Sundance to Claire's Butch Cassidy. "He cheats at poker and shoots up the room" Sasha liked to say, "while she collects the money and tidies up." That is a fantastic description of their marriage.
The best part of the book are the Jack Huxley sections. Huxley clearly is meant to be George Clooney, and Radziwill dated Clooney years ago, which makes this novel all the more delicious. I'm not sure Clooney will be thrilled though.
Fans of Gigi Levangie's books (The Starter Wife) will like this one; there is the same mix of humor and poignancy.
rating 4 of 5
Carole Radziwill's website is here.