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Will the members of the dysfunctional Olyphant family manage to find contentment in life?

Book Review: ‘The Inseparables’: A Novel by Stuart Nadler

Stuart Nadler’s The Inseparables is a family novel populated by several unique and interesting characters. There’s Henrietta, a cross between Erica Jong and J.D. Salinger. Decades ago, she wrote a then-scandalous novel, The Inseparables, which brought her instant notoriety. She’s sought to avoid the spotlight since then.
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However, after the sudden and unexpected death of her chef husband Harold, a man who ran his restaurant of meals cooked with butter, more butter and even more butter into the ground, she approves a re-release of the book as she desperately needs money. Oona is Henrietta’s orthopedist doctor daughter, who’s separated from her husband and who unwisely decides to have an affair with her former marriage counselor.

Spencer, Oona’s soon to be ex-husband, is a lawyer who quit his job with a major law firm after one year. He desired instead to be a house husband, taking care of his daughter and smoking marijuana. Smoking pot is basically the one thing that Spencer excels at.

Lydia, the teenage daughter of Oona and Spencer, is an extremely bright student who decides to leave her public high school for a private prep school, where she will manage to have herself suspended. That suspension causes Lydia to consider a self-expulsion from the institution.

All of these individuals have less than perfect lives, but they’re all striving to find contentment even if it kills them. They will find that happiness is not a result of having a best seller or owning a restaurant or living in a fancy city high-rise. It’s about the simple things – the free things in life such as the time a grandmother and granddaughter spend together.

They had been together most of the morning… Henrietta had not done this enough. Been in a restaurant with just her granddaughter. Traveled on a train with her. In the beginning it was the kind of thing she imagined would happen more. Decent grandmotherhood, she had always suspected, depended on being able to do this well – to dote, to dispense wisdom, to spoil an unruly precocious young person with gifts and irreverent humor… Had she written down her goals for being a grandmother, this kind of thing would have been part of her hopes.

This is also a story about what it means to be an American in a time of rapid change. A time when a failing fancy European restaurant is downtown one day, replaced by a thriving taqueria the next. But these are just businesses, just buildings – structures that can be renovated or rebuilt or destroyed. People go on, families survive; the earth somehow thrives and surrounds us with beauty and hope.

Before she gets up to go, she turned to see it again. The flat earth. The hills. All the good acres and the wind in the trees. Remember this.

Highly recommended.

Note: The Inseparables will be released on July 19, 2016.

About Joseph Arellano

Joseph Arellano wrote music reviews in college for the campus newspaper and FM radio station. In recent years he has written book reviews for several publications including San Francisco Book Review, Sacramento Book Review, Portland Book Review and the Tulsa Book Review. He also maintains the Joseph's Reviews blog.For Blogcritics, Joseph writes articles about music, books, TV programs, running and walking shoes, and athletic gear. He believes that most problems can be solved through the purchase of a new pair of running shoes.

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