Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. This book will be released on August 20, 2019.
How was this tagged as a romance? I guess train-wreck was too on point. Seriously though, I ended up loathing 99 percent of the characters in this book. Even the one person I didn’t loathe, I seriously disliked because he outed someone. I am surprised this wasn’t an Oprah Book Pick since every time she loves a book I usually have this reaction to the book.
“Carnegie Hill” follows the residents and a man who works at a co-op in New York. Yeah. I am trying to come up with something pithy here, but that’s all I got. Vatner switches POVs from various people throughout this book. We have Pepper (trying to go as Penelope) Bradford newly engaged to Rick. We have Pepper and Rick’s next door neighbors, Birdie and George. We also have Francis and his wife Carol. We also follow a porter that works at the building, Caleb.
Pepper was exhausting. She is an heiress based on context clues and doesn’t have a job. Though she’s had other relationships end due to her parents commentary, she’s happy and in love with Rick. Moving into Carnegie Hill she has a chance to prove to them that she can do something meaningful and joins the co-op board. Of course she finds out that the board is full of a lot of elderly residents who seem okay with the co-op being predominantly white. Pepper is what I call white outraged. Angry about it, but really doesn’t try to do anything except complain about others. She’s also beyond exhausting about people having “secrets.” This is mentioned throughout the book. I really wanted to tell Pepper that’s called boundaries and mind her own damn business.
Pepper’s fiancee Rick was a hot mess. No spoilers, but what the hell. At one point I wondered if this author was taking a jab at therapy or what because what some of them were saying had me going the hell.
Birdie is trying to get her recently retired (or told to retired or be fired) husband George to take an interest in his life again. She wants them to move back to Canada or just do anything else. Instead George spends a lot of his time sleeping and avoiding leaving their apartment. I don’t even know what to say. Birdie read as heartless and George was a confusing character to me. I don’t know what he wanted exactly. I get feeling like it wasn’t fair that he was pushed out of his job and then the next one he took he was fired from due to him not getting technology. But the spiral felt so fast to me as a reader. And then it just continues for about a year.
Francis, also exhausting. He’s similar to Pepper wanting to complain about the rich and elite but not do much about it. Him trying to get Caleb to read books and acting as if he understood his life was….well it was something.
Caleb seemed to be there to give the everyday man’s perspective, but I found his world view to be too simplistic too.
There are secondary characters in this one (too numerous to count) and they jumble through the characters stories. Everyone started to read as a caricature to me after a while. I really started to cringe every time Pepper and Rick popped up because I just needed a break from that slow moving disaster.
I have to say that the writing wasn’t that great. I think switching from Pepper, to Birdie, George, Francis, Rick, and Caleb didn’t help. I honestly had no energy for half of the characters and the lies and mess they were telling themselves and others. The whole book felt disjointed and read like a bad play. I don’t know if Vatner was going for something humorous or what. Or was trying to say something pointed. Whatever it was, it flew over my head. Oh wait, it made marriage seem like a hellscape of never ending snide remarks and anger that the person that you married isn’t doing exactly what you want in the moment though you are constantly changing your mind.
The flow was not good. The character POVs were lopsided. We spent most of the book with Pepper. I don’t know if this could have been fixed if we just stayed with Pepper and Rick or what. Everyone was so underdeveloped.
The book takes place in New York over the course of a year I think. Though a few places are mentioned like Central Park, for the most part the book doesn’t do a great job of exploring New York. Everything felt claustrophobic after a while since everything takes place in apartments or at therapist offices.
The ending felt unfinished to me.
I also read this for Cannonball 11 Bingo “Reading the TBR” square. This book has been on my TBR list for a while now. I am trying to clean out my NetGalley books through September publishing dates so I can take some time off.