It is the Saturday after the 2016 presidential election, and in a plush weekend house in Connecticut, an intimate group of friends, New Yorkers all, has gathered to recover from what they consider the greatest political catastrophe of their lives. They have just sat down to tea when their hostess, Eva Lindquist, proposes a dare. Who among them would be willing to ask Siri how to assassinate Donald Trump?
There is an art to writing about unlikable people while still engaging the reader to invest in their indulgence, vanity and, yes, happiness. Tracking the fallout wrought by Eva’s acquisition, Leavitt unfurls a droll drawing-room pastiche that evokes la dolce vita as Seinfeld episode ... It’s Aaron Sorkin on steroids. And surprisingly compelling ... Leavitt has claimed John Cheever and Grace Paley as influences, and it shows here: His dissection of the pampered New Yorkers’ reaction to Trump’s election, which they treat as a personal affront, is lethal and also kookily endearing ... Leavitt, cleverly crafting a New Yorker cartoon in words, proves there is still some navel-gazing worth reading. His autopsy of the current liberal ennui is not particularly trenchant or surprising, but it’s certainly amusing. And in this ghastly year, can’t we all use more of that?
I never lost my sense of taste with COVID, but I'm beginning to think I may have lost my sense of humor — or, perhaps, my patience with the sort of deliberately, mockably tendentious conversations Shelter in Place is filled with ... Leavitt easily nails the trappings of entitlement ... It is hard for a character to be less appealing or interesting than Eva ... These two women are such easy targets, a fingerless chef could skewer them ... At its best, a comedy of manners should sparkle with wit and charm. Leavitt pulls off a surprisingly sweet ending and some clever ripostes ... Certainly, we could all use something to laugh about now, but passing time with these characters felt like lockdown to me.