Katherine Heiny’s bubbly and breezy first novel is about Graham Cavanaugh, a 56-year-old venture capitalist, who marries his gregarious, much younger mistress only to wonder if his quiet, orderly first wife isn’t his better match after all.
Graham’s second wife, Audra Daltry, is so well drawn that she is destined to be indelible. She has a natural talent for befriending anyone. She is unapologetically (maybe even selfishly) herself. She’s one of those people who sets up double dates with her husband’s ex wife and invites strangers to Thanksgiving and runs the school’s United Nations Day like the balance of the Universe depends on it. Audra walks into a room and you can actually feel the energy changing.
The plot centers around the constant chaos in the Manhattan apartment that Graham and Audra share with their 10-year-old son, Matthew, who is an origami prodigy with Asperger’s. The book is full of odd, charming New Yorkers and almost every scene is colored with the absurd. It is reminiscent of Seinfeld in that respect: witty social satire at its best.
Heiny crafts memorable scenes with even more memorable language, like when Graham and his first wife meet and “their eyes caught for a second like two coat hangers before you shake them free of each other.” Or when, upon seeing Audra reenter a room, “here was Graham, drinking in the very sight of her, and wishing he were a painter or photographer so he could capture the way she looked forever.” The author’s wicked talent for outstanding metaphors and bittersweet prose keeps this book a cut above the ordinary.
This is why I now have a girl crush on Katherine Heiny and will read anything else she ever writes.
Best paired with Doritos and Jello-shots.