Two families and their children navigate their ways through relationships and life.
Modern Lovers is another slice of life novel, which seems to be Emma Straubâ€™s niche. We arenâ€™t moved along by plot; weâ€™re centered around a couple of families during one summer.
One married couple is on the verge of divorce. The other couple is seemingly happy, but the husband is melting in a bad case of ennui.
Iâ€™d give Modern Lovers a solid 3.5 stars, if I did things in half measures. But I donâ€™t.
Slices of life are tricky book subjects.
Sometimes, like in The Nest, they work out well and the characters are engaging enough to make you care about what happens. Other times, like with Straubâ€™s The Vacationers, I’m more a distant voyeur, watching with some interest but not much caring what happens to the characters within.
Modern Lovers hits a little harder than The Vacationers, but still not quite hard enough. Things happen, then are seemingly shrugged off. But itâ€™s still an enjoyable journey for the most part.
One thing Straub has in her favor is her ability to write about food. She does it in The Vacationers, and she does it again in Modern Lovers. I can practically taste the globs of Nutella or the fluffy blueberry pancakes.
Have you seen Jon Favreauâ€™s movie, Chef? Itâ€™s the ultimate in food porn. That scene where heâ€™s making the grilled-cheese sandwich with so much intricate attention (and butter!) makes me want to reach through the screen and grab it.
I have much the same feeling when reading Straub, even though food isnâ€™t the main focus of the novel. I hope she keeps it up.
If sheâ€™s smart, Straub will leverage that skill and write a book where food takes the main stage. She could fill in where Sweetbitter fell short.
It would be so delicious.