Wednesday, April 17, 2013

a dual inheritance

ATTENTION: I received this book courtesy of Goodreads.  (Side Note: If anyone didn't know, Goodreads has tons of free giveaways. This was my first time winning and I was ecstatic! Definitely check out their offerings from time to time and throw your name in the hat). 

Harvard University, 1963: two young men meet in the fall of their senior year and become quick friends despite their differences. 

Ed Cantowitz is there on a scholarshiphe's poor, Jewish, girl-crazy, and studying finance. Hugh Shipley is in many ways Ed's oppositewealthy, comes from a respectable and well-known family, a bit lazy, set on one girl (a girl from his boarding school days), and studying anthropology. Where Ed is awkward but confident, Hugh is sophisticated but apologetic. While Ed is determined be rich, Hugh seems embarrassed by his wealth and wants to help those suffering in third-world countries. The book follows these two men from their college days to first jobs, marriages, children, world travel, until we finally leave them in the early 2010s. 

The first half of this book captivated me. The writing is lovely and I felt very close to both Hugh and Ed. I loved when they visited Ed's father in his tiny, run-down apartment and when they spent the weekend with Helen's well-to-do family at their lake-house. The atmosphere was appealing and well-described: fall at Harvard, rich people drinking too much alcohol, Ed's first job in finance. But at some point, my connection with the characters fell away. I couldn't hear their voices as well and they didn't seem to quite match with their earlier, college-boy selves. Then it really went downhill for me when the author switched to talking about their daughters. I just didn't care about their daughters. I missed Ed and Hugh and not only that, but I wish the author hadn't made their lives go so far downhill. I'm not a "sunshine and roses" type of girl, but I also don't want a book to just show me two men's lives slowly falling apart. In my perfect world, the book would have ended around 1970 (the plot refigured to make that a suitable place to end), we would have heard it all from Ed and Hugh's voices, it'd be 100 pages shorter, and they both wouldn't be so contemptible as they aged.

I just wish A Dual Inheritance had lived up to its first half. I was completely prepared to love it.

TITLE: A Dual Inheritance
AUTHOR: Joanna Hershon
DATE FINISHED: 17 April 2013
VERDICT: 3/5 stars. Invigorating start, detached and depressing finish.

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