As the city's gritty edges are being smoothed into something safer and shinier, two aspiring writers meet at a music magazine. Rose is a staff writer. Charlotte is an editor. First wary, then slowly admiring, they recognize in each other an insatiable and previously unmatched ambition. Soon they're inseparable, falling into the kind of friendship that makes every day an adventure, and makes you believe that you will, of course, achieve extraordinary things. Together, Charlotte and Rose find love and lose it; they hit their strides and stumble; they make choices and live past them. They say to each other, "Don't ever leave me." It's their favorite joke, but they know that they could never say a truer thing. But then the steady beats of their sisterhood fall out of sync. They have seen each other through so much—marriage, motherhood, divorce, career glories and catastrophes, a million small but necessary choices. What will it mean if they have to give up dreaming together?
A gimlet-eyed look at the complexities of the friendship between two women over decades ... Bauer’s second novel questions the choices women are forced to make as they age, and the way those decisions unite or divide them. Bauer offers no easy answers nor pat conclusions, and her layered tale is all the stronger for it.
Appealing if aimless ... There’s not much of a plot, just a bunch of time in bars, clubs, and restaurants and conversations that don’t quite pass the Bechdel test...and by the end it just sort of fizzles out. Still, Bauer has a talent for exacting language, particularly when describing the characters’ attempts at navigating an era in which it feels like feminism is over .... There are better stories of moving to the city, but this makes for a charming enough time capsule.
Alcohol-soaked parties, abortions, marriages, affairs, a divorce, a death in the family, secrets, and betrayals all ensue, related with such cleareyed precision and honesty that only on the rarest of occasions does it tip over into sentimentality. Charlotte’s narration rings true for the discerning writer and editor she is; the prose is razor-sharp and utterly devoid of clutter. Though as a person she drifts and waffles...as a storyteller, she never loses focus ... With deftness and candor, Bauer tells a moving and thoughtful story of how desire and ambition change over time and how to make sense of the messiness of carving out a path and life of one’s own. A smart and beautifully rendered portrait of two women’s lives.