Carnegie Hill

St. Martin’s Aug. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781250174765. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250174772. F
DEBUT Penelope “Pepper” Bradford and Rick are newlyweds, despite her parents’ objections. They insisted that thirtysomething Pepper get to know Rick better, basing their concern on her past relationships and their hunch that he was dishonest. But the wedding went ahead, and Pepper now resides in the beautiful Chelmsford Arms building in New York’s wealthy Carnegie Hill neighborhood. Her neighbors include two long-married couples, George and Birdie, and Francis and Carol. Pepper looks to them for guidance, not realizing they have their own marital problems. Meanwhile, Caleb and Sergei, who work at the building as a porter and a doorman, conduct a secret romance. Debut author Vatner brings to light how the other half lives, and, contrary to popular belief, how money does not buy happiness but can certainly give that impression. He highlights marriages in varying states of disarray owing to depression, health issues leading to alienation, and dishonesty. The story is anything but light, as issues of race, class, sexual preference, secrecy, and prejudice are attacked head on.
VERDICT An excellent read for those seeking an exploration of marriage in all of its various stages.
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