By Ted Thompson
Little, Brown and Company, $25.00, 266 pages
Tom Anders is typical of the successful American dream: his career in finance has provided his family with a comfortable home in the Connecticut suburbs, connected via Metro North to his office duties in the city. But this life is catching up with them all. Now living the life of early retirement, out of nowhere Anders asks his wife for a divorce, trading in the comfort of retired life for freedom and a condo. Several months later, he turns up at the town’s social event of the season, perhaps trying to reclaim some small portion of the life he’d given up. What he doesn’t expect is that his actions at the party will have long-reaching effects on the lives of so many people around him.
Ted Thompson’s excellent debut novel will earn him comparisons to other writers who so elegantly capture the emptiness and unexpected family struggles of the commuter suburban lifestyle – from Cheever and Updike, to Jonathan Franzen’s powerful portraits of well-off family life. It is a pitch-perfect look at the way that misunderstanding and disappointment can inevitably come to shape a family’s experiences.
Reviewed by Robert C. Robinson