Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky
Published July 2nd, 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group.
Adult > Contemporary, Fiction
A brilliantly funny novel of money, sex, race, and bad behavior in the post-Obama era, featuring a wealthy Connecticut divorcée, her college-age daughter, and the famous American novelist who is seduced by them both.
Rachel Klein never meant to kiss her creative writing professor, but with his long eyelashes, his silky hair, and the sad, beautiful life he laid bare on Twitter, she does, and the kiss is very nice. Zahid Azzam never planned to become a houseguest in his student’s sprawling Connecticut home, but with the sparkling swimming pool, the endless supply of Whole Foods strawberries, and Rachel’s beautiful mother, he does, and the home is very nice. Becca Klein never thought she’d have a love affair so soon after her divorce, but when her daughter’s professor walks into her home, bringing with him an apricot standard poodle named Princess, she does, and the affair is…a very bad idea. In a darkly hilarious novel that zigzags between the rarified circles of Manhattan investment banking, the achingly self-serious MFA programs of the Midwest, and the private bedrooms of Connecticut, Marcy Dermansky has written an audacious, addictive, and wickedly smart take on the way we live now.
Much like how I felt about Conversations with Friends, Very Nice has me contemplating my feelings towards these characters. I’m not having as hard of a time liking the characters, and the story itself is indeed addicting. But how do I feel about it altogether? Definitely conflicted at the moment. No doubt Dermansky’s writing is easy, and it’s a great summer read.
Flash forward to about a week later: My time letting this book settle has been helpful because, in retrospect, I think I really liked this book.
Early on in the book, the driving plot point is established, and from then on, you’re clinging to the pages hoping to see it get revealed (or not, depending on who you’re rooting for).
The synopsis calls this book “brilliantly funny.” Don’t go into it expecting a comedy… expect more of a dramedy. The humor is dark, and while written in such a slick and glossy way, there’s also a hopeless sadness to these characters.
It was wonderfully immersive into the lives of these characters. Told from all of the character’s perspectives, we get a glimpse into their own storylines, and how they all intertwine. That’s one of my favorite elements in a book like this — seeing seeming unrelated characters cross paths, being omniscient and knowing the greater picture while the characters remain oblivious…
The ending was a shock to me. It felt like it came a bit out of nowhere, but somehow the craziness of the ending should have been expected, as we see each of these characters slowly unravel throughout the course of the book.
Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s been my reading choices of late, but I’m finding this book perplexing to write about. I can wholeheartedly say at this point that I greatly enjoyed and recommend this book, especially for the summer season.
While there are some darker themes, I can say that both YA and Adult readers alike could find something to love in Very Nice.