cover image Carnegie Hill

Carnegie Hill

Jonathan Vatner. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-17476-5

In Vatner’s witty debut, Penelope “Pepper” Bradford is, at 32, something of a late bloomer among Manhattan’s elite. She’s unmarried, works at a series of unsatisfying entry-level jobs, and is embarrassed when her married younger sister becomes pregnant before she does. Things change when she meets Rick Hunter, a young banker, and they become quickly engaged. Rick moves them into the Chelmsford Arms, a co-op apartment building for the old and wealthy in Carnegie Hill, the “epicenter of Upper East Side privilege.” On impulse, Pepper decides to join the co-op board and immediately finds herself at odds with its tyrannical president, Patricia Cooper. On the eve of their wedding, Pepper finds out that Rick might be cheating on her, but she still goes ahead with the ceremony. As she tries to repair her marriage, run for co-op board president, and make friends with several of the building’s tenants (who all have problems of their own), Pepper finally takes her first steps toward becoming a true adult. Vatner’s keen eye for domestic dissatisfaction will remind readers of Laurie Colwin. He populates the Chelmsford Arms with a delightful cast of characters, but best of all is Pepper herself, a charming, contemporary update of an Edith Wharton character. This debut will entertain and satisfy readers. (Aug.)