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Modern Lovers Bets On...

Modern Lovers

June 2016

I remember exactly where I sat reading Emma Straub’s THE VACATIONERS two years ago. I remember because it was a one-day read that unfolded like a great escape. Thus I looked forward to getting my hands on MODERN LOVERS, which provided me that same experience.

Here we have three former bandmates from Oberlin (their band was called Kitty’s Mustache) --- Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe --- locked into a friendship that has matured from their college days, but still carries lots of the baggage and history that come from longtime friendships. Set in Brooklyn, Elizabeth has married Andrew, and Zoe has married Jane. Each couple has bought homes, started businesses and built a family life, which feels oh-so-mature. But at the same time, each of the characters is caught up in some level of midlife crisis drama. Andrew, the trust fund baby, is lost; Elizabeth is selling real estate but is missing her artistic side; and Zoe and Jane are going through marital woes, something that married lesbian couples get to experience as a by-product of exercising their right to marry. I knew someone was going to mine this last plot thread for a novel.

Oh, and while they are muddling through mid-life breakdowns, their children are not just growing up, they also are finding an attraction to one another. This is not something that anyone planned.

There was a fourth bandmate, Lydia, who has died from a drug overdose (is that a cliché?), but her spirit lives on as a movie producer wants to make a film about her life. One hitch: that would mean including the band’s most famous song, “Mistress of Myself,” which Elizabeth penned and owns the rights to. And all the band members need to sign off on the concept of using their likenesses in the film. There’s a holdout on this who is holding back for one very personal reason.

Straub’s writing is smart, quick and clever, and the combo makes this a very brisk read. I loved reading the backstories on how they all came together and how the band fell apart.

One of my favorite parts of the book came in the final pages when we get a look ahead to where everyone is a few years down the pike. And hey, this means no need for a sequel, which is often deadly for a loved book. Straub already has rendered it for us, and it’s brisk and fun!

Modern Lovers
by Emma Straub

  • Publication Date: May 30, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • ISBN-10: 1594634688
  • ISBN-13: 9781594634680