Synopses & Reviews
For readers of Rules of Civility
and The Marriage Plot,
Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance
is an engrossing novel of passion, friendship, betrayal, and class — and their reverberations across generations.
Autumn 1962: Ed Cantowitz and Hugh Shipley meet in their final year at Harvard. Ed is far removed from Hugh’s privileged upbringing as a Boston Brahmin, yet his drive and ambition outpace Hugh’s ambivalence about his own life. These two young men form an unlikely friendship, bolstered by a fierce shared desire to transcend their circumstances. But in just a few short years, not only do their paths diverge — one rising on Wall Street, the other becoming a kind of global humanitarian—but their friendship ends abruptly, with only one of them understanding why.
Can a friendship define your view of the world? Spanning from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the present-day stock market collapse, with locations as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen, and Fishers Island, A Dual Inheritance asks this question, as it follows not only these two men, but the complicated women in their vastly different lives. And as Ed and Hugh grow farther and farther apart, they remain uniquely — even surprisingly — connected.
“This brilliant family saga captured me from its opening lines and kept me pinned to the couch—by turns laughing and sobbing — until I’d reached its stunning, satisfying conclusion. It calls to mind The Corrections and The Emperor’s Children, as well as Cheever and Michener and Potok, but this is also a novel squarely in the tradition of Victorian social realism, of Eliot and Galsworthy and Dickens. And like those novels, A Dual Inheritance is a cracking story — populated with complicated, fascinating characters and fueled by surprising turns of plot — but it’s also a deft analysis of class and race in America. With it, Joanna Hershon establishes herself as one of the most important storytellers of the new millennium.” Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
“A Dual Inheritance is deep and beautiful and humane. It has a massive scope and a social conscience, and yet is also incredibly intimate. What an accomplished novel; it truly took my breath away.” Jennifer Gilmore, author of Something Red
“Joanna Hershon gives further evidence of a pleasing trend set off by Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot: big books about American politics, social customs, and family dynamics that seek to update and relocate the brilliantly compelling English nineteenth-century novel. I envy and admire Hershon’s ability to so convincingly display the complex intimacies of multigenerational love and friendship. This is a book to lose yourself in.” Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“This insightful, worldly, and engaging novel, at once intimate and broad in scope, traverses continents and decades while hewing closely to the psychological shadings of its characters. A rueful comedy of entitlement and chagrin, it says volumes about the way we live now.” Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal
About the Author
Joanna Hershon is the author of The German Bride, The Outside of August, and Swimming. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Edward Albee Foundation. An adjunct assistant professor in the creative writing department at Columbia University, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the painter Derek Buckner, and their twin sons.