The Land of Steady Habits

Ted Thompson, Author
Ted Thompson. Little, Brown, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-18656-8
Reviewed on: 01/06/2014
Release date: 03/25/2014
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-316-21583-1
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-316-18657-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-2847-8
Open Ebook - 141 pages - 978-0-316-21584-8
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Late-life divorce is the subject of Thompson’s acutely written first novel. Approaching retirement age, Anders Hill is recently divorced from his wife, Helene. They have two adult children, who don’t seem especially fond of their father, especially the troubled younger one, Preston, who has yet to find himself. But as lost as Preston is, he is still in much better condition than Charlie, the substance-abusing, preppy son of Helene’s best friends who inexplicably turns to Anders for support, this at a time when Anders is having difficulty supporting himself, both financially and spiritually. Things become even more complicated when Anders finds out that Helene is living in his old house with a new lover, Donny, a mutual friend from their college days. As a wickedly sharp framing device, Anders’s travails come to a head during the Christmas season. This novel is basically a series of confrontations, but Thompson is a master at dramatically pitting one character against another. The story takes place in Connecticut, and the author proves to be as keen an observer of this social scene as his literary forebears, Cheever and Updike. Anders, Helene, their children, lovers and friends, might not be the most likable group of characters you’ll come across, but the author humanizes them in a way that makes their problems relatable. (Mar.)
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