Synopses & Reviews
Described by John Ashbery as “pared down but rich, dense, fevered, exactly right and even eerily beautiful,” Christine Schutts prose has earned her comparisons to Emily Dickinson and Eudora Welty. In her new novel, Schutt delivers a pitch-perfect, timeless and original work on the spectacle of love.
Prosperous Friends follows the evolution of a young couples marriage as it is challenged by the quandaries of longing and sexual self-discovery. The glamorous and gifted Ned Bourne and his pretty wife, Isabel, travel to London, New York, and Maine in hopes of realizing their artistic promise, but their quest for sexual fulfillment is less assured. Past lovers and new infatuations, doubt and indifference threaten to bankrupt the marriage. The Bournes fantasies for their future finally give way to a deepened and mature perspective in the company of an older, celebrated artist, Clive Harris, and his wife, Dinah, a poet. With compassionate insight, Schutt explores the divide between those like Clive and Dinah who seem to prosper in love and those like Ned and Isabel who feel themselves condemned to yearn for it.
"Ned and Isabel are married, but other than a college courtship that neither ever felt like ending, their relationship appears to be more of a habit than a romance. Isabel is sad a lot. Ned, a writer, appears to have tried his hardest to make things better, but as everyone, including the doomed couple, knows, 'There may be cures to loneliness but marriage is not one of them.' The emotional tug of war that Ned and Isabel find themselves fighting, though not necessarily always on opposite sides of the rope, drives this poignant novel. Schutt (Florida) creates a noteworthy texture with what she withholds. Little backstory is provided and what does contextualize Ned and Isabel's relationship comes piecemeal, over time, pushing the reader toward a more active engagement of imagining all that isn't quite explained. The technique is effective, making for abrupt juxtapositions, vivid moments, and terse language, the sum of which feels fittingly reflective of the relationship itself. No one in the book seems quite sure why sometimes the bits and pieces of life and of love meld over time into one definable shape while others remain disparate and fractured. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Christine Schutt is the author of two collections of stories, Nightwork
and A Day, A Night, Another Day, Summer
. She is also the author of the novels Florida
, a National Book Award finalist, and All Souls
, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.