Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, a New York Times bestselling author, and daughter of Peter Straub, a best-selling horror and suspense writer, has been on many lists this summer and many “Employee Picks” shelves that I’ve seen at several bookstores. The book was released in May (2016), and I saw it many times on shelves before I picked it up. Here is what I found out…
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.
Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.
Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2016 SO FAR
“Ms. Straub writes with such verve and sympathetic understanding of her characters. . .[An] entertaining novel. . . deftly and thoughtfully written.”
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
VERDICT: Well…this is a hard review for me to write, because I did not totally love this book. I liked it, but I did not love it. It’s so much easier to write about a book that you loved. This book title had come across my email and blogs many times on various lists of books you “must read this summer,” so of course I added it to my stack! In fact, I was able to pick it up at one of my favorite bookstores, The Book Stall in Winnetka! You may have read all about it in my post called The Book Stall: A Place Not To Be Missed. And I’m glad I bought it and read it, and I do recommend it, but it will not keep you on the edge of your seat (like Pretty Baby did for me).
I wonder if my timing for this book was bad?? I had just finished reading several books that were “edge of my seat” type books. Mysteries and thrillers. Then, I picked up Modern Lovers. It was a nice story about some friends who all went to college together and the trials and tribulations they experienced during that time and after as they all began to enter into adulthood (while still remaining close friends). It seemed so calm in comparison to some of the novels I had read over the last few months. While it was enjoyable, it certainly didn’t have me as captivated as some.
However, about 1/2 way through the book, I found myself a bit more invested in the characters and their outcomes. I prefer to be sucked in right away, but that didn’t happen with this novel. It seems like it would make a good, entertaining, easy to watch Lifetime Movie. You know what I mean? I’d enjoy it, but I probably would not buy the DVD.
Apparently, I am in the minority though, because the reviews that this book gets are off the chart! In an article in the Washington Post titled 37 Books We’ve Loved So Far in 2016, Emma Straub’s book, Modern Lovers was included. And Washington Post was not alone in their review… This book was on several other summer reading lists as well! Now…her novel, The Vacationers is intriguing to me too – even though Modern Lovers wasn’t my favorite book, I did enjoy Emma Straub’s writing style, so I just might be adding this novel to my “To Read” pile! Especially since it is available in paperback! I’ll let you know what I think…
Who Is Emma Straub?
Emma Straub has written several books, but one I’m intrigued by after reading Modern Lovers is called The Vacationers, and it was a New York Times Bestseller. This book was originally published in 2014, and was a Best Book of the Month on Amazon in June of 2014. Might be worth taking a look at! On Emma Straub’s website, I learned that she is from New York City. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Modern Lovers, The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married.
Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin House, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and the The Paris Review Daily. She is a contributing writer to Rookie. Straub lives with her husband and two sons in Brooklyn.
Pretty impressive, right? I had not heard of her until I started seeing (and reading about) Modern Lovers. But like I said above – after reading some reviews, I’m thinking I might give The Vacationers a shot. Sounds like a good, entertaining pool-side read. I love (and am intrigued by) the title Other People We Married, but I’ve never been one for short stories. I don’t know why… If you’ve read it, and recommend it, please let me know.
And if you’re curious about her famous father, Peter Straub, you can read about him in the article from The New York Times called As A Straub, She Was Born To Be An Author. Peter Straub read voraciously from an early age, but his literary interests did not please his parents; his father hoped that he would grow up to be a professional athlete, while his mother wanted him to be a Lutheran minister.
He attended Milwaukee Country Day School on a scholarship, and, during his time there, began writing. Peter earned a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin in 1965, and a Master’s from Columbia the following year. In 1969, he moved to Dublin, Ireland to work on a Ph.D, and it was here that he began writing professionally.
So there you have it. My thoughts on Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. Not my favorite book, but I liked the writing style so much that I will be trying out The Vacationers at some point. I’ll let you know. In the mean time, keep on reading, and let me know if there’s a must read on your list! Until next time…
P.S. Here’s a link to one of Peter Straub’s books. From what I’ve read in my research, they are quite thrilling! Enjoy…