cover image You Were Made for This

You Were Made for This

Michelle Sacks. Little, Brown, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-47540-2

In Sacks’s haunting first novel, Columbia University anthropology professor Sam Hurley and his set designer wife, Merry, ditch the comforts of Manhattan for a radically different lifestyle in an isolated cottage he has inherited in Sweden. Although the attractive couple and their baby, Conor, present an idyllic picture, deep-rooted problems threaten their relationship. Sam, who never told his wife that he was fired for inappropriate sexual relationships with students, lies to her daily about his activities. Merry chafes at the happy homemaker role Sam insists she was made for, but soldiers on through endless gardening, baking, canning, and tending an infant for whom she feels nothing. But the family loses its shaky equilibrium with a visit from Merry’s glamorous lifelong frenemy, Frank, during which an unthinkable tragedy occurs. Though Sacks (Stone Baby, a story collection) doesn’t give readers anyone to root for, her unblinking look at beautiful people with ugly secrets has the voyeuristic fascination of a Bergman film. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (June)