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May 23, 2014

The White Rose

by Brendan

About a month ago, I read jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel, You Should Have Known — it’s about a New York therapist who writes a book called You Should Have Known, which is about relationships, especially about how women should have known when their husbands have been cheating on them, living double lives, trending toward divorce, etc.  The book gets some traction, media play, and its author, Korelitz’s protagonist, finds out some things about her own life that she should have known.

The novel is just so well written, so intriguing, that immediately when I finished it, I went looking for another Korelitz book — and Book Gallery West, my neighborhood used bookstore, with which I trade books regularly, have done so for years, had The White Rose, which I’m currently reading.  It’s set, like You Should Have Known, in New York City, and it’s so good that I finish chapters and say out loud, “Wow.”

New York City

New York City

The White Rose begins with Marian and Oliver.  She’s a history professor at Columbia, and he owns a flower shop called The White Rose.  Oliver is 26, Marian is 48, and he’s the son of her oldest friend, Caroline.  Marian is married, Oliver is not.  So their situation is, uh, complicated.

And quickly becomes further complicated when he’s at her apartment, they’re post-tristesse, and her cousin calls, says he’ll be right over.  Marian can think of nothing but to rush Oliver into his clothes as she rushes into hers and send him out the service elevator.  Oops — the service elevator is broken, so she asks him to hide.  Which he does, for awhile, but then he sashays out to the living room where she and cousins Barton are having drinks.  Fair enough, accept that Oliver is dressed in Marian’s clothes and is introduced as her assistant, Olivia.

Oh, my.  To say much more would lead me to have to issue a “spoiler alert.”  I will say, however, that the novel proceeds with the lives of Oliver and Marian, Barton Ochstein (Marian’s cousin), and his fiance Sophie Klein, an heiress.   Also, Marion’s oldest friend, Oliver’s mom Caroline, a pesty gossip columnist whose name escapes me.  Oh yeah, and the mysterious Olivia. It’s an amazingly good book–it winds its way to an ending that astonished and exhilarated me.  Great book — 6 or 7 stars out of 5.)

Maybe Book Gallery West has another Korelitz book.  Amazon probably does, though I like to buy from a local store when possible.

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