Modern Lovers

Emma Straub (The Vacationers, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures) has created a funny, charming world, squarely located in Ditmas Park, an up-and-coming Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood. The main characters, former college bandmates, are approaching middle age: real estate agent Elizabeth, her husband, Andrew, and their teen son, Harry, live just down the street from Zoe, her wife, Jane, a chef, and their daughter, Ruby.

It's all quite domestic and serene, until the summer when Zoe and Jane's marriage hits a rocky patch, Andrew gets drawn into some sketchy situations, and the two couples find out that Ruby and Harry are sleeping together.

Matters are further complicated by the fact that a film company has begun production on a biopic about Lydia, the fourth band member, who rocketed to fame after ditching Zoe, Elizabeth and Andrew. Lydia died in her 20s, and her legacy has lingered, while the other three have left music behind for their Brooklyn obscurity. Can the two couples navigate the secrets that the film is bound to uncover? Will they survive the relationship of their children? Or will a marriage and friendships that seemed rock-solid crumble?

Entertaining and evocative, Modern Lovers asks thoughtful questions about what makes a marriage great, the nature of fame and legacy, and when to step back and let your children make their own mistakes. Straub's characters are warm, believable and generally amusing, and beach-reading devotees will want to linger in her sweltering Brooklyn summer. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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