This second novel by Bethany Ball peels back the veneer of upper-class white suburbia to expose the destructive consequences of unchecked privilege and moral apathy in a world that is rapidly evolving without them. A portrait of a community, and its couples, torn apart by unmet desires, duplicity, hypocrisy and dangerous levels of discontent.
... a delectably numbed-out tale of three couples in a wealthy Connecticut suburb who face the possible destruction of their marriages, bodies, minds and the earth ... Ball is a pleasure to read. Her sentences are brisk twists of the knife; every satirical dart is a bull’s-eye. She makes a meal out of her space-cadet suburbanites, with their expensive German cars and organic apple juice, but allows their concerns to be widely applicable ... But there’s something off about the proportions of the novel. After all of Ball’s careful setting-up...the book seems to end in the middle of the second act, with sinister Agnes fading into the background and the school’s creepiness coming to no particular climax ... To be left wanting much, much more at the end of 300 pages might hint at a structural problem, but it is also a compliment.
... a stinging satire about the hollowness of the suburban dream. Each couple is glittering but damaged ... Withering in its barbed wit, Ball’s mordantly penetrating portrait of middle-class malaise teems with infidelity, inequity, mistrust, and disappointment.
... [an] appealing but predictable sophomore effort ... while the threads occasionally captivate, no single plot line prevails, and the many asides fizzle out with almost no consequence. Unfortunately, the narrative’s emotional flatness (as well as that of the characters) makes this feel somewhat schematic, and the plot is too intricate for its own good. Despite some moments of charm, this feels like it’s missing a sense of purpose.