Author: Charles Dubow
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: e-ARC received from publisher for an honest review
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
We’ve all been around a couple who can engulf the attention of an entire room merely by occupying it. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are that set; the natural ease between them is palpable and their chemistry is almost tangible. He is a recent National Book Award winner with a promising career ahead of him, and she is blessed with family money, but radiates beauty, elegance, and humility. Whether they are abroad in Italy after he receives the Rome Prize, in their ambrosial East Hampton home, or in gritty Manhattan, they are always surrounded by close friends and those who wish to penetrate their inner circle. During a summer spent at the beach, they meet 26 year-old Claire and, as the summer blazes on, she is slowly inducted into their world. Claire can’t help but fall in love with Harry and Maddy and at the end of the summer, it is no longer enough to just be one of their hangers-on. Told through the omniscient eyes of Maddy’s childhood friend Walter, Indiscretion is a juicy, page turning novel with writing that is sophisticated and lyrical. Deeply textured, full of light and darkness, and overwhelmingly sensual, this book will be the sexiest, most intimate story you read all year.
"We make so many right decisions in life, but it is the wrong ones that can never be forgiven."
Ooooh, what an intriguing journey I went on with this novel. I'm not going to give you much plot detail beyond the description, because I think it's just enough. The basic premise of the novel is not surprising (ummm...it involves infidelity?), but even so, I was never quite sure where it was going to go next. Its subject is seemingly simple (a marriage, a friendship, and...an indiscretion), but I never felt like I knew the true nature of the book's four main characters--and that air of mystery left the plot in a state of constant change.
You see, Dubow leaves enough of each character in shadow so that you never get a good grip on them, and thus you constantly question their desires and motives. Given that this is a book focusing primarily on relationships--their origins, their flaws, what makes them important to us--you don't want everything neatly explained anyway. Half the fun of this novel is figuring out what makes each protagonist tick, and how they will react in the face of despair.
Beyond the somber and shifty nature of the book as a whole, I was also enamored with the way it was narrated. When the story begins, you can't quite get a read on Walter (lifelong friend of the primary couple, Harry and Maddy Winslow). His background is vague, and his feelings for Harry and Maddy (especially Maddy) leave you wondering what his true place is in the novel. At first, I thought he was the chosen narrator because of his distance from Harry and Maddy's relationship--but that later proves not to be true, as Walter takes an increasingly large role in their lives. I love stories that do interesting things with perspective, and Indiscretion certainly manages that. Walter's role in the book gradually changes as the pages turn, and as a result, your perception of the entire debacle must change as well.
The ending deserves its own paragraph, because the last 20% of this book is phenomenal. I thought I had an idea of what might happen, but then something totally different occurred. I got comfortable with that reality, settled in for a nicely-wrapped ending, and then...GAME CHANGE. Well played, Mr. Dubow.
Were there any downsides to Indiscretion? I will say that when I started to realize that the book was truly filled with regular, not-crazy people (and not at least one crazy-stalker, like I had originally thought), I was a little disappointed and for part of the book after that, I felt like things got a little slow. However, after I got over that realization and reworked my idea of the book (as I had to do so many times anyway), I moved on and ended up loving the direction it took.
Also, I don't know if this is a downside, but some of the sex scenes are quite explicit. If you're averse to that (where my reading prudes at??), they can be a bit shocking, but they only occur in a relatively small part of the novel and do have a descriptive purpose in the plot.
Overall, I found this book to be rather fantastic. Human relationships are so often ambiguous, and Dubow nails that both in his choice of narrator and in the ever-shifting direction of the character's lives. You probably won't get a good read on Harry, Maddy, Claire, and Walter until the last page--and even then, you'll still be left with a few "whys" to ponder. This is a thought-provoking book that gets to the heart of the fluidity of our relationships--and how one wrong decision can have implications that last a lifetime.
Check out some other reviews of Indiscretion:
I Read A Book Once...
Confessions of a Book Addict