Town & Country Magazine's Must-Read Books of Summer 2019 | She Reads' Best Books for Your Summer Roadtrip
"Carnegie Hill has got to be one of the most charming, hilarious, and insightful books I've read in ages. When it comes to New York's (often befuddled) elite, Vatner has an eagle eye for detail, and an ear for whip-smart dialogue. This is an assured, heartfelt debut." –Grant Ginder, author of The People We Hate at the Wedding and Honestly, We Meant Well
Deception is just another day in the lives of the Upper East Side's elite.
At age thirty-three, Penelope “Pepper” Bradford has no career, no passion and no children. Her intrusive parents still treat her like a child. Moving into the Chelmsford Arms with her fiancé Rick, an up-and-coming financier, and joining the co-op board give her some control over her life—until her parents take a gut dislike to Rick and urge Pepper to call off the wedding. When, the week before the wedding, she glimpses a trail of desperate text messages from Rick’s obsessed female client, Pepper realizes that her parents might be right.
She looks to her older neighbors in the building to help decide whether to stay with Rick, not realizing that their marriages are in crisis, too. Birdie and George’s bond frays after George is forced into retirement at sixty-two. And Francis alienates Carol, his wife of fifty years, and everyone else he knows, after being diagnosed with an inoperable heart condition. To her surprise, Pepper’s best model for love may be a clandestine gay romance between Caleb and Sergei, a black porter and a Russian doorman.
Jonathan Vatner's Carnegie Hill is a belated-coming-of-age novel about sustaining a marriage—and knowing when to walk away. It chronicles the lives of wealthy New Yorkers and the staff who serve them, as they suffer together and rebound, struggle to free themselves from family entanglements, deceive each other out of love and weakness, and fumble their way to honesty.
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.