It’s Memorial Day weekend and Alice’s beloved dog Maebelle has been lost. Alice stays in New York, desperate to find her dog, while her husband Peter drives north to stay with friends in the Berkshires. Relieved to be alone, Alice isn’t sure if she should remain married to Peter but she’s built a life with him.
... 200 or so quicksilver pages ... LeFavour is unsparing in her exploration and interrogation of her characters’ cosseted, if fragile, world of class and privilege. She examines their lives with an anthropologist’s care. Or maybe an anatomist’s ... The author of several cookbooks, LeFavour clearly knows how to cut close to the bone ... In the right light, even acid sparkles, and this otherwise scarifying book does so on every page. A pre-publication blurb cites Cheever and Ian McEwan as comparisons, but the closer one by far is Tom Wolfe, who could learn a thing or two from LeFavour’s searing examination of Alice’s and Peter’s struggle to navigate their world ... If the National Book Awards decides to carve out a separate subcategory for depictions of fights between lovers, LeFavour should take both the prize and honorable mention for two such scenes in this novel. They’re gripping, deftly handled, and deeply satisfying ... I’ll nominate her for one more imaginary award, as well: research. It’s not just the unerring aptness of all those status details mentioned earlier, nor the deep, holistic view of psychiatry from the doctor’s side of the couch (there’s even a brief and funny history of such couches here), but that each character, even Maebell, feels fully real.
In this lifelike, charming, and witty portrayal of mostly-well-mannered marriage doldrums, LeFavour lets Alice and Peter unleash their inner storms onto the page long before they act on them. Their paramours become ciphers for all they think they’ve lost in one another, and the opposition between their respective sciences—and themselves—turns out to be a mirror.
LeFavour is an award-winning cookbook writer, but don’t expect a foodie novel. Fans of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is in Trouble or Ann Beattie’s short stories will enjoy this wry, sophisticated, and intelligent rendering of modern, privileged city life.