Plumbing the Asheville-New York connection. Also, a plug.

Today marks the release of Better Homes and Husbands (St. Martins) by Asheville author Valerie Leff. Her book is set in NYC, though, at 980 Park Avenue, to be specific. I was in workshop with Valerie last year and loved the chapters of the book I read — Valerie’s originally from New York, and she knows what she’s writing about. She is funny and sharp but never facile. Also, she lets Mr. Tingle and I come to her house for parties, so we think she is divine.

Here’s the official book description:

980 Park is on the Northwest corner of Park Avenue and 83rd Street, a fictional, pre-war co-op that houses the rich and famous–Sidney Sapphire, the blonde anchorwoman on ABC news, Angela Somoza, the gorgeous Cuban jet-setter, Bob Horowitz, the former chairman of the UJA, and a Latino doorman who goes on to become a major fashion designer. The building shelters the usual collection of banking and industrial CEO’s, Wall Street magnates, and white-haired philanthropists.

The building’s board, rich as clotted cream, sips gin in the afternoons and devises ways to keep out anyone they possibly can. Stifled resentments come to a head when the French baroness in the penthouse dies, and two Jewish families in the building suspect the co-op board of more discrimination with regard to prospective buyers than might be legal. Better Homes and Husbands is about class and caste feuds, played out with ferocity and etiquette, within the brick and limestone walls of one very exclusive address during a tumultuous period of social change.


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