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?
... glittering ... What follows over the course of the novel’s two decades isn’t as decisive as a breakup. Instead, Bauer explores the nuanced topic of how a person’s emotional metabolism can slow over time ... Bauer is the author of a previous novel, Frances and Bernard, and a memoir, Not That Kind of Girl. Her third book reveals a sharpened eye for social detail and a Laurie Colwin-esque ear for dialogue. The novel’s pockets of sentimentality are offset by streaks of viciousness, accurately reflecting how we tend to remember our pasts: happy times bathed in a distorting glow, miserable times diminished and disowned ... a love story about two friends, but it’s also something thornier — a narrative about the cycles of enchantment, disenchantment and re-enchantment that make up a life.
I loved reading every page ... brilliant, deliciously wry, not afraid to proceed to its destination. It pulls zero punches. It’s mature in a way that is hard to describe. It respects its characters and the reader enough to stay the course on its own terms. And that is a little difficult to accept at times, like real life. I loved it and will have no trouble recommending it to customers. But I’m going to spend between now and June refining my elevator pitch.
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.