Carnegie Hill

Carnegie Hill : A Novel

3.25 (1,064 ratings by Goodreads)
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At age thirty-three, Penelope "Pepper" Bradford has no career, no passion and no children. Her intrusive parents still treat her like a child. Moving into the Chelmsford Arms with her fiance Rick, an up-and-coming financier, and joining the co-op board give her some control over her life - until her parents take a gut dislike to Rick and urge Pepper to call off the wedding. When, the week before the wedding, she glimpses a trail of desperate text messages from Rick's obsessed female client, Pepper realises that her parents might be right.

She looks to her older neighbours in the building to help decide whether to stay with Rick, not realising that their marriages are in crisis, too. Birdie and George's bond frays after George is forced into retirement at sixty-two. And Francis alienates Carol, his wife of fifty years, and everyone else he knows, after being diagnosed with an inoperable heart condition. To her surprise, Pepper's best model for love may be a clandestine romance between Caleb and Sergei, a porter and a doorman.

Jonathan Vatner's Carnegie Hill is a belated-coming-of-age novel about sustaining a marriage - and knowing when to walk away. It chronicles the lives of wealthy New Yorkers and the staff who serve them, as they suffer together and rebound, struggle to free themselves from family entanglements, deceive each other out of love and weakness, and fumble their way to honesty.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 165 x 243 x 34mm | 560g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1250174767
  • 9781250174765

Review quote

[An] effervescent debut...entertaining and profound. --People

Absolutely charming and heartfelt. --New York Post

A perfect beach read. -Town & Country Magazine

Sitting in the sun in between travel days with a glass of lemonade (or maybe a martini) with this book is an excellent escape. -She Reads

Vatner's debut novel is absorbing and comforting in its omniscient perspective and delicate handling of its carousel of characters. -Kirkus

Vatner brings to light how the other half lives, and, contrary to popular belief, how money does not buy happiness but can certainly give that impression...An excellent read for those seeking an exploration of marriage in all of its various stages. -Library Journal

Vatner's keen eye for domestic dissatisfaction will remind readers of Laurie Colwin. He populates the Chelmsford Arms with a delightful cast of characters, but best of all is Pepper herself, a charming, contemporary update of an Edith Wharton character. This debut will entertain and satisfy readers. -Publishers Weekly

"[A] charming, comically observant debut... it's [Vatner's] consistently wry wit and obvious affection for his deluded, struggling characters that are this novel's propelling forces, and which will win readers over with delight." -Booklist Starred Review

The Chelmsford Arms, the apartment building at the center of Jonathan Vatner's debut novel, is a bubble within a bubble, a Galapagos of the rich, full of beautifully bizarre mutations that exist nowhere else. A shrewd comic tale of old lovers, young lovers, and the blanket of privilege that both warms and binds them all. A marvelous book." -Jonathan Dee, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Privileges

"Wit and high hilarity propel us through the pages of this tale of irrepressible lovers who are never on secure ground for long. There's wisdom at the heart of this wonderfully buoyant novel."
-Kathleen Hill, author of New York Times Notable Book Still Waters in Niger

In Carnegie Hill, Jonathan Vatner's array of terrifically drawn residents of a New York City co-op tackles race, homophobia, income disparity, and romance old and new. Readers of Cynthia Ozick and Amor Towles will love this witty and heartrenching chronicle of modern manners. Through Vatner's sharp evocation of present-day Manhattan, we pity the rich, admire the struggling, and root for them all. -Bethany Ball, New York Times Editor's Choice author of What to Do About the Solomons

A shrewd confection of a novel, fun to read and warm at heart--full of neighborly sideswiping, unfeedable appetites, and an overview that sees the pride and fragility of it all. The vibrant cast makes this a page-turner--you won't envy these people for a second but you'll have a great time watching them undo and fix themselves. -Joan Silber, 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award winner and the PEN/Faulkner Award winner for Improvement

A richly imagined story, teeming with life, and a subtle exploration of the ways in which we grow or fail to grow. Jonathan Vatner has given us a wise and funny novel with a compassionate heart. -Brian Morton, author of New York Times Notable Book Starting Out in the Evening

Carnegie Hill is that rare thing: A deft, delightful comedy of manners that also gets at dark, complicated truths about race, class, gender, and age. I loved it. -Joanna Rakoff, award-winning international bestselling author of My Salinger Year

Carnegie Hill is pure reading pleasure. Like a warm-hearted Tom Wolfe, Vatner portrays the foibles of the upper crust with affection and panache--and gets all the details outrageously right. He imbues the elite residents of the Chelmsford Arms with the breath of life, and by the end we know them as family. He's a wise, wry writer, and this is an uplifting, irresistible debut. -Lauren Acampora, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers author of The Paper Wasp
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About Jonathan Vatner

JONATHAN VATNER is an award-winning journalist who has written for The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Poets & Writers; and many other publications. He has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in cognitive neuroscience from Harvard University. He lives in Yonkers, NY with his husband and cats. Carnegie Hill is his first novel.
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Rating details

1,064 ratings
3.25 out of 5 stars
5 11% (121)
4 28% (297)
3 40% (421)
2 17% (178)
1 4% (47)
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