My first book in the ARC Challenge:
Title: “The New Yorkers”
Author: Cathleen Schine
Number of Pages: 320
Date of Publication: April 29, 2008
4 stars: A realistic look at love, life, and New York
“The street’s proximity to Central Park made it a favorite with professional dog walkers who could hardly be expected to keep track of the waste of the seven or eight dogs pulling them forward. And so the street, not distinguished by great beauty to begin with, was not terribly clean either. And yet, it was the loveliest street I have ever lived on. And the most interesting.” (pg 4)
I was happy to receive “The New Yorkers” by Cathleen Schine as my LibraryThing EarlyReviewer May book. Part of the blurb: On a quiet little block near Central Park, five lonely New Yorkers find one another, compelled to meet by their canine companions. Over the course of four seasons, they emerge from their apartments, in snow, rain, or glorious sunshine to make friends and sometimes fall in love. I’ve never read anything by Schine, but after this, I’ll definitely be checking out some of her previous books.
While summary talks of five different New Yorkers, I was a bit confused as to who counted as one of the five. There was Jody, who in my opinion was the main character, and the one who I rooted for the most. Then there was Simon, and Everett, the two men she meets. Plus Polly and George, the brother and sister who move to the neighborhood in the beginning. However, there was also the restaurateur Jaime, and Doris, the woman determined to clean up her street (I guess these two aren’t part of the five, although I certainly enjoyed reading about them!). The narrator tells their stories, every once in awhile interjecting “I” or “we” as if to remind us that the narrator is still there, even though he/she is behind the scenes and never actually involved in the story (which in the author interview at the end of the book Schine attributes to Trollope)– this was slightly odd, and I felt that the story would have flowed nicely without the interjections. My only other problem with this book was that while I enjoyed hearing about every character, it was at times jarring to switch between them. Sometimes we were being told Jody’s story for several pages, while other times the narrator would jump from a Jody paragraph to an Everett paragraph to a Simon paragraph. This was probably what annoyed me the most about this novel. (Thus the loss of one star.) This style of writing got easier to read as the book progressed, particularly as the characters lives began to intertwine with each other.
Jody worries about her elderly dog Beatrice. Simon longs for his vacation. Everett wonders if he can date a younger woman. Polly struggles through a breakup. George uses his dog as a chick magnet. Jaime thinks about his kids. Doris vows to clean up the neighborhood. As I got further into the book, I began to feel as if I knew the characters (and their dogs! Although I’ve barely mentioned them in this review, they are very much a part of the story). Schine’s New Yorkers could be any New Yorkers and I think that is what makes them so interesting. It is for this reason that I would definitely recommend this story. There is no doubt that Schine’s greatest strength is in developing her characters. A pleasant story of love lost and love found, “The New Yorkers” will show you just how much life revolves around man’s best friend.
Interested in reading Schine’s other novels? They include: Alice in Bed (1983), To The Birdhouse (1990), Rameau’s Niece (1993), The Love Letter (1995)- which was the basis for the movie of the same name, The Evolution of Jane (1998), She Is Me (1995), and her newest The New Yorkers (2007).
Missed the post before this one? It was CONTESTS, GIVEAWAYS, AND ARCS.