Carnegie Hill, by Jonathan Vatner

16 Sep
carnegie hill jonathan vatner

Five of 5 stars

I love books with ensemble casts of characters, and I really enjoyed this one. The world in this story is confined to one upscale building in New York and its co-op board and tenants. Pepper is in her early 30s and engaged to Rick, but they are the youngest tenants by an average of 40-50 years. Pepper wants a marriage and life like all the older couples she meets in her building, but as we meet each couple we see how they are all struggling to keep things together.

Some reviews have mentioned unlikable characters, but what I saw were just deeply flawed individuals, most of whom understood their flaws but who struggled to deal with them. Patricia is probably the most problematic, and although she is given a very sympathetic back story, her circumstances don’t really excuse racism. As well, I found it hard to believe that Pepper just suddenly notices the inherent racism in her rich white life, when it’s the exact same life she’s been immersed in since birth.

Two of my favorite characters were the only other younger couple, Caleb and Sergei, who work in the building. Unfortunately, they are given the least attention but I still enjoyed what we are given of them.

Overall I thought the characters were very interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how they struggled with their long relationships and the changes that being older bring. Some deal with loss of their work lives along with their identity, and many deal with health issues. Carnegie Hill could be seen as a very sad story, but it is also about life. I was mostly heart-warmed watching them all deal with love and loss and learning to live the best lives they can.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I understand why this wasn’t a hit with some readers, but I enjoyed it and it earns five stars from me.

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