Deception is just another day in the lives of the elite.
At age 33, Penelope “Pepper” Bradford has no career, no passion, and no children. Her intrusive parents still treat her like a child. Moving into the Chelmsford Arms with her fiancé Rick, an up-and-coming financier, and joining the co-op board give her some control over her life - until her parents take a gut dislike to Rick and urge Pepper to call off the wedding. When, the week before the wedding, she glimpses a trail of desperate text messages from Rick’s obsessed female client, Pepper realizes that her parents might be right.
She looks to her older neighbors in the building to help decide whether to stay with Rick, not realizing that their marriages are in crisis, too. Birdie and George’s bond frays after George is forced into retirement at 62. And Francis alienates Carol, his wife of 50 years, and everyone else he knows, after being diagnosed with an inoperable heart condition. To her surprise, Pepper’s best model for love may be a clandestine romance between Caleb and Sergei, a porter and a doorman.
Jonathan Vatner's Carnegie Hill is a belated-coming-of-age novel about sustaining a marriage - and knowing when to walk away. It chronicles the lives of wealthy New Yorkers and the staff who serve them, as they suffer together and rebound, struggle to free themselves from family entanglements, deceive each other out of love and weakness, and fumble their way to honesty.
Praise for Carnegie Hill:
"A shrewd confection of a novel, fun to read and warm at heart - full of neighborly sideswiping, unfeedable appetites, and an overview that sees the pride and fragility of it all." (Joan Silber, 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award winner and the PEN/Faulkner Award winner for Improvement)
"The Chelmsford Arms, the apartment building at the center of Jonathan Vatner’s debut novel, is a bubble within a bubble, a Galapagos of the rich, full of beautifully bizarre mutations that exist nowhere else. A shrewd comic tale of old lovers, young lovers, and the blanket of privilege that both warms and binds them all. A marvelous book.” (Jonathan Dee, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Privileges)