Thursday, May 31, 2018

10. The Best People by Helen Van Slyke

I couldn't resist picking up this book with that amazing cover.  And subject matter intrigued me greatly, a story of an exclusive Park Avenue cooperative.  I thought it was going to be about people trying to get into a snooty apartment and it was, but not quite how I thought.  It's more of a Mad Men vs. housing discrimination when an advertising firm tries to woo a crucial client, a Jewish shoe magnate, by attempting to secure an apartment in this super waspy building.

I love books that describe an enclosed milieu and this one did a solid job of portraying the history of the building, its current residents and the dynamics of the all-important board. You get a strong sense of its clean quiet hallways and explicit description of the many rooms and dimensions.  The disappointment for me is that the protagonists, a super waspy but progressive couple, totally luck into the sick apartment.  Their struggle is to get the apartment for the client and they risk alienating their neighbours, but they already got the place and ultimately do not seem all that threatened.  The book's conclusion, which hinted at some colour with the exiled Austrian noblewoman who harboured a dark secret, ultimately falls back on safe drama. Overall an enjoyable read.  I think this one is going on the shelf for its style alone.

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