cover image Alternate Side

Alternate Side

Anna Quindlen. Random House, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9606-7

Bestseller Quindlen’s provocative novel (after Miller’s Valley) is a New York City drama of fractured marriages and uncomfortable class distinctions. Nora and Charlie Nolan, married 25 years, live in a posh neighborhood in Manhattan. She is a museum director, he’s an investment banker, and both are lodged in a passionless marriage of silent tolerance. Simmering class, economic, and racial tensions boil over when an arrogant, rich white lawyer neighbor hits a local Latino handyman with a golf club for blocking a parking lot entrance. This forces Nora, Charlie, and their neighbors to decide how seriously to take the crime. Suddenly, the neighborhood’s veneer of acceptance and inclusion is peeled away, revealing resentment and bitterness among neighbors and spouses. Nora and Charlie argue openly, revealing just how little they really care about each other and prompting Nora to conclude there are only three kinds of marriages: “happy, miserable, and acceptably unhappy.” Quindlen’s novel is an exceptional depiction of complex characters—particularly their weaknesses and uncertainties—and the intricacies of close relationships.[em] (Mar.) [/em]