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"Very funny and unexpected, a material response to our times, plush as velvet." –Rachel Cusk
"A wickedly funny and emotionally expansive novel about all the bewildering ways we seek solace from the people and things that surround us." – Jenny Offill
David Leavitt returns with his signature "coolly elegant prose" (O, The Oprah Magazine) to deliver a comedy of manners for the Trump era.
It is the Saturday after the 2016 presidential election, and in a plush weekend house in Connecticut, an intimate group of friends, New Yorkers all, has gathered to recover from what they consider the greatest political catastrophe of their lives. They have just sat down to tea when their hostess, Eva Lindquist, proposes a dare. Who among them would be willing to ask Siri how to assassinate Donald Trump? Liberal and like-minded-editors, writers, a decorator, a theater producer, and one financial guy, Eva's husband, Bruce-the friends have come to the countryside in the hope of restoring the bubble in which they have grown used to living. Yet with the exception of one brash and obnoxious book editor, none is willing to accept Eva's challenge.
Shelter in Place is a novel about house and home, furniture and rooms, safety and freedom and the invidious ways in which political upheaval can undermine even the most seemingly impregnable foundations. Eva is the novel's polestar, a woman who moves through her days accompanied by a roving, carefully curated salon. She's a generous hostess and more than a bit of a control freak, whose obsession with decorating allows Leavitt to treat us to a slyly comic look at the habitués and fetishes of the so-called shelter industry. Yet when, in her avidity to secure shelter for herself, she persuades Bruce to buy a grand if dilapidated apartment in Venice, she unwittingly sets off the chain of events that will propel him, for the first time, to venture outside the bubble and embark on a wholly unexpected love affair.
A comic portrait of the months immediately following the 2016 election, Shelter in Place is also a meditation on the unreliable appetites-for love, for power, for freedom-by which both our public and private lives are shaped.
Leavitt (The Two Hotel Francforts) turns a gimlet eye on a group of wealthy New Yorkers whose lives revolve around the excitable Eva Lindquist. After the 2016 election, Eva sets out to buy an apartment in Venice so she can sit out Trump's presidency safely in Europe. Eva's earnest husband, Bruce, is a wealth management consultant who's amassed a considerable fortune and accepts that Eva "does the wanting and I do the paying." He acquiesces to purchasing a dilapidated place Eva describes as a "decorator's dream." Eva is accompanied on her numerous trips to Venice by Min Marable, a lifelong friend who readily name-drops every magazine she's ever worked at, from Good Housekeeping to Mademoiselle, while Bruce helps his assistant, Kathy, as she goes through chemotherapy treatments for non-Hodgkins lymphoma after her husband left her. Leavitt gleefully skewers his characters and those in their orbit top-tier Manhattan decorators get into internecine fights, and a recently fired book editor friend of the Lindquists excoriates what he calls the "fucking Jonathans" (Foer, Franzen, Lethem, etc.) and nearly pulls off a surprise ending, which, though out of left field, adds to the amusement. This irresistible, laugh-out-loud romp is a winner.