A Dual Inheritance
by Joanna Hershon
published by Ballantine Books
For readers of Rules of Civility and The Marriage Plot, this engrossing, very smart novel about passion, betrayal, class and friendship delves deeply into the lives of two generations, against backgrounds as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen and Fisher’s Island. It is the most accomplished book-by far-of this prominent young author’s career.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963: two students meet one autumn evening during their senior year at Harvard-Ed, a Jewish kid on scholarship, and Hugh, a Boston Brahmin with the world at his feet. Ed is unapologetically ambitious and girl-crazy, while Hugh is ambivalent about everything aside from his dedicated pining for the one girl he’s ever loved. An immediate, intense friendship is sparked that night between these two opposites, which ends just as abruptly, several years later, although only one of them understands why. A Dual Inheritance follows the lives of Ed and Hugh for next several decades, as their paths-in spite of their rift, in spite of their wildly different social classes, personalities and choices-remain strangely and compellingly connected.
This is the first book I have received as part of the Early Reviewers program at Library Thing in return for a fair and honest review. When I read the synopsis, I was so excited to start it.
The story follows the lives of two men from very different backgrounds who become improbable friends at Harvard in the 1960s. Hugh is from a wealthy, WASP, well known family and Ed is a poor Jewish boy from from Dorchester. These two become best friends in their senior year, and are joined by Hugh’s girlfriend Helen to become an inseparable threesome. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, especially the descriptions of Harvard, and the beach house on Fishers Island. As the characters left college and moved on with their lives, the tone of the story seemed to change. I felt the main characters were becoming desperate and very depressing. It wasn’t until the later part of the book, where the Hugh’s and Ed’s daughter meet in boarding school and become best friends, that I regained interest.
I though Joanna Hershon’s writing was very good, and did enjoy reading it, but not as much as I had hoped.
rating- 3 out of 5