"Tedrowe explores the reconfigurations of a family and the strange alliances that can occur between young and old, love and work. And she writes brilliantly about money…. A deeply satisfying debut." —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street “A poignant meditation on desire, heartrending loss, and dreams deferred.” —Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart Emily Tedrowe’s exceptional debut novel depicts the shockwaves set in motion by the sudden marriage of one middle-class family’s 78-year-old matriarch to a wealthy outsider. Commuters is that rare novel that offers something for almost everyone: “foodies” interested in exploring the rich tapestry of the New York City restaurant scene; the millions who have been profoundly affected by the current financial and mortgage crisis; or anyone simply looking for a beautifully drawn family drama in the vein of the works of Katrina Kittle (The Blessings of the Animals, Two Truths and a Lie) and Jennifer Haigh (The Condition, Baker Towers, Mrs. Kimble).
Well into their 70s, Winnie McClelland and wealthy Jerry Trevis have fallen in love, causing consternation among their extended family. Jerry's daughter, Annette, in particular, feels financially threatened when her newlywed father moves from Chicago to a small town in New York State, where he's purchased the largest, most ostentatious house in Hartfield for his bride; worried that her inheritance might go to Winnie's family, Annette sues to freeze her father's assets. Meanwhile, Winnie's daughter, Rachel, has asked her new stepfather for a sizable loan to help deal with her ill husband's overwhelming health-care bills. Annette's son, Avery, a recovering drug addict and promising young chef, is also looking to Jerry for the resources to start up his own restaurant. Further conflict arises from Winnie's plans to cut down a historic tree for a new front-yard swimming pool, a move that threatens to alienate the entire town. Tedrowe exhibits some beginner's awkwardness in her debut, particularly in her self-conscious euphemisms for septuagenarian sex, but shows great promise in her compassionate, nuanced depiction of love among the old and young alike and her confident handling of alternating, multigenerational narrators.
I found myself quickly caring about each character in this multi-level unfolding of human events. I thought at one point it would disintegrate into over-kill, and when it didn't I was so pleased. Winnie and Avery became a part of my inner circle while I was reading this novel. I hope they stick around in my consciousness. I'm sorry the book is over.
This is seriously the best book I've ever read in my life