"A very smart, soulful, compelling, elegantly written domestic novel about a wedged-together family, and what can go wrong when teenage children decide they have minds (and hormones) of their own." —Nick Hornby
“A spry and accomplished comedy of manners.” —The New York Times Book Review
“They've chosen the one thing that will make our family life impossible. It's genius really, when you think about it. It's the perfect sabotage.”
Julia Alden has fallen deeply, unexpectedly in love. American obstetrician James is everything she didn't know she wanted--if only her teenage daughter, Gwen, didn't hate him so much. Uniting two households is never easy, but when Gwen turns for comfort to James's seventeen-year-old son, Nathan, the consequences will test her mother's loyalty and threaten all their fragile new happiness.
This is a moving and powerful novel about the modern family: about starting over; about love, guilt, and generosity; about building something beautiful amid the mess and complexity of what came before. It is a story about standing by the ones we love, even while they make mistakes. We would give anything to make our children happy. But how much should they ask?
This observant comedy of manners about a contemporary blended family by the author of The Innocents is deepened by the author s compassion for her self-deluded characters. Widowed Julia, a British piano teacher, has just allowed her new love James, an obstetrician from Boston, to move in, and they re relishing their relationship except for the presence of their teenage kids. Julia s gawky, artistic daughter, Gwen, and James s snarky, intellectual son, Nathan, despise each other and make life miserable for their parents until they start to become attracted to each other, which creates a much deeper set of problems. James s ex-wife and the separated parents of Julia s deceased husband all weigh in on the situation, while going through emotional changes of their own. In prose to savor, Segal reflects on the conflicts between loving one s spouse and one s children and the difficulties in putting one s own offspring first. She skillfully ups the stakes in the battle in which the four primary family members are engaged, as the previously close Julia and Gwen find themselves at war and each aggrieved to be misunderstood by the other. If adolescence is fraught with awkwardness, Segal ably demonstrates that adulthood is as well.