I don’t usually spend much time reviewing books that I do not enjoy.
So, with that in mind, I will not linger over the fact that this book is populated with really terrible characters (and those of you with trigger issues about violence against women or children – you might want to steer clear of this one). And I will not linger over the fact that those characters feel only about an inch deep.
What I will linger over is the issue that sits underneath this portrait of a very elite Connecticut community: the idea of “outsiders.” The two narrators – 40-something Cheryl and her stepson, Teddy – are both outsiders to the golf-playing, country-club-attending society they inhabit. But beyond those two characters, there is a movement afoot to put a fence around the community, blocking anyone (particularly the working class fishermen who also frequent the area) from accessing the beach.
There’s a political dimension of this uber-rich community’s effort to exclude outsiders that could possibly bring this slight portrait of a bunch of unpleasant people to a larger conversation. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite get there. The sheer awfulness of everyone stands in the way of allowing the reader to slide into what, to me, seems like a very real problem for many communities. What are the ways that all of us put up fences? What are the consequences of building those fences?
It turns out that tv network executives might have liked this novel more than I did. It’s going to be turned into a “dark, humorous soap” for ABC.