Posts Tagged ‘Indiscretion’

indiscretionAlthough it arrives midwinter, Charles Dubow’s first novel could be your next summer book, a sexy page-turner of love, desire and betrayal. Indiscretion (William Morrow, advance reading copy), though, seems a rather namby-pamby title to describe an affair with such far-reaching consequences, but F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t like The Great Gatsby as a title, either. I mention Gatsby because the comparisons are inevitable due to the similarity of the setting, the fluidity of the writing, and the Nick Carraway-like narrator.

His name is Walter Gervais, and his family is old money with a summer home in East Hampton next-door to the Winslows, Harry and Madeleine. Walter has known Maddy since childhood and has always been a bit in love with her, although he watched her fall for Harry, a charismatic hockey star, when they were all at Yale. That was 20 or so years ago, but the Winslows are still mad for one another. Handsome Harry’s an award-winning novelist, lovely Madeleine a domestic goddess; they cherish a young son who has apparently recovered from an early heart condition, and they throw fabulous summer parties for the many friends who circle like moths to their burnished life.

It’s at one such party that Claire, a pretty ingenue with a voice like a bell, needs rescuing from an obnoxious date. Harry swoops in and carries her off to Maddy. Claire, still figuring out who she wants to become, is enchanted by both and returns as a welcome weekend houseguest, listening to Harry’s stories and helping Maddy in the kitchen. The spell is partly broken in the fall when the Winslows’ depart for Rome so Harry can write his next book, and Claire realizes her infatuation with Harry is not enough to make him love her in return. At least not yet. But when he comes back to New York a few months later for a meeting with his publisher, she falls into his arms and he doesn’t resist. They meet on the sly in Paris, Harry having rationalized that what Maddy doesn’t know won’t hurt her.  He never plans to leave her.

He doesn’t have to. When Maddy inevitably finds out about Claire a few months later, she leaves Harry and moves back to New York, emotionally devastated, her life in ruins. Walter acts as a go-between as she files for the divorce Harry doesn’t want. And still there is Claire. . .

Walter’s account of what happens next is a bit drawn out, somewhat improbable. It’s really Dubow’s only misstep with a story that proves again that a tale is in its telling. And this one is well-told. I’ll be reading it again come summer.

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