Last weekend I read Love and Other Hazards by Claudia Riess, a story of modern life, love and family relationships.
Here’s what the publisher, River Grove Books, says the book: “Glenda Fieldston is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her seven-year-old daughter, Astrid, when Eugene Lerman comes walking by with his eight-year-old daughter, Meredith, a schoolmate of Astrid’s. The families spot each other, Glenda and Eugene engage in long-range cursory assessments, and then they go their separate ways.
But not for long. Glenda and Eugene cross paths professionally soon after, and circumstances at work bring them into close association. So begins a friendship fraught with complications. Glenda’s independence is self-imposed and fierce. Eugene’s was foisted on him by a wife who left him. Although Glenda’s and Eugene’s personal demons are incompatible, their longings are, confoundedly, in harmony. Their cautious friendship is further inhibited by past and present relationships, and it remains to be seen if they can break out of their set ways to make a break for uncharted love.”
This contemporary romance, with its unique and captivating set of characters, is witty and poignant at the same time. Its realistic treatment of issues of modern life makes it a believable, satisfying read.
The main character, Glenda, is a determinedly single modern woman who doesn’t lie and views sex as merely a physical function. As the story progresses, and the author reveals the reason for Glenda’s unwillingness to commit to a monogamous relationship, the reader can’t help but root for the strong, yet vulnerable character. Glenda’s emotional journey hooks the reader and draws her through the story, on a tempestuous route that eventually arrives at a satisfying conclusion.
Although I spend most of my time with characters from an earlier era, I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing change of perspective. The story is complex and there isn’t an absolute, black and white answer for every quandary, but it’s an uplifting affirmation of the indomitable nature of the human spirit. I heartily recommend it to readers who enjoy a good story, even if they aren’t fans of love stories. Spend a few hours with Glenda and Eugene. It’ll be worth it.
About Claudia Riess: She is a Vassar graduate who has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker magazine and Holt, Rinehart and Winston books and has edited several art history monographs. Her first novel, “Reclining Nude,” was published by Stein and Day. Oliver Sacks, author of “Awakenings,” had said her first book was “exquisite—and delicate… a most courageous book, full of daring—a daring only possible to a passionate and pure heart.” The author divides her time between the Hamptons and Manhattan with her husband, Bob.