I know that I should have waited until I was on vacation to read Emma Straub’s new book but I couldn’t wait. I thoroughly enjoyed her last book The Vacationers so I had to download this one immediately.
Modern Lovers takes place in Brooklyn circa now. It focuses on 3 couples at a transformative time in their lives.
Zoe and Jane have been together forever and run the hip eatery Hyacinth, but they are on the brink of divorce. Andrew and Elizabeth are both happily married, but are each on their own path threatening to break them apart. Zoe and Jane’s teenage daughter Ruby is the “cool girl” that is toying with Elizabeth and Andrew’s “good boy” teenage son Harry. Could it be something, or is it just experimentation?
Andrew, Zoe and Elizabeth were part of a successful band in college with Lydia who rose to stardom, but died very young. Her life will be the subject of a Hollywood movie. If the movie gets made, how will exposing their lives affect them?
I love this type of book. On the surface it is about relationships, the secrets we keep, food, intimacy, and the ups and downs of relationships. But at its core, it’s about human vulnerability at a time in life when you are unsure of your next move, and who you want to make it with. She does a really nice job of linking the “mid-life crisis” as you approach or surpass your fifties, with your last year of high school when you don’t know how to choose between all your options.
The book has a Zadie Smith’s On Beauty vibe which really tickles my fancy as it is one of my favorite books of all time. I love Emma‘s voice and her ability to transport me. In The Vacationers she brought me to Mallorca, Spain. (I wrote about it here.) In Modern Lovers she brings me to the cool homes and coffee shops of Brooklyn, New York where she resides.
I haven’t finished the book yet, but as I was reading it on the subway, I enjoyed a great scene portraying the characters eating pancakes. They sounded so good I wanted to eat them! That is always the mark of a good book for me. So good that it gets me thinking of my favorite NYC pancakes, that makes me happy about life, love, and the adventures we take right at home, and yet so very far away from the people we are closest to.