This is a Victorian novel, complete with a Vicar, and an Elderly Benefactress. Also a Clueless Mother, and Long-Suffering Father. Neighbors interfere. Gossip abounds. Funds run short. The wise narrator explains it all. I loved it! Fans of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope will have fun with this. And I especially love it that no one mentions Jane Austen anywhere on the book jacket.
Of course it isn't really Victorian. It was published in 2003. Morningside Heights stands in for Barchester. It’s a neighborhood undergoing gentrification in New York City, where the old time residents are under siege from Wall Street tycoons. The self-satisfied artsy types who inhabit the old buildings are finding themselves priced out as their buildings go co-op. We follow the fortunes of the Braithwaite family as they navigate these changes, along with the adventures of their friends and extended family. Mendelson is wonderful at very subtle satire. No one escapes her just-ever-so-slightly-poisoned pen, but everyone is treated with love and respect as well.
I read that this is the first volume of a trilogy – hooray! Mendelson is also the author of Home Comforts, a book I remember seeing on the table at Borders, but which I studiously ignored, believing it to be some sort of Martha Stewart-esque guide to “homekeeping.” Who wants to read about ironing? But Mendelson is a great writer, and some people say that there’s more to Home Comforts than just housework, so I might give it whirl.
Here's an interesting review.
(Book 3, 2007)