I love a good sudsy potboiler. Obscure relatives coming out of the woodwork, half baked con jobs, the golden gilding coming off of the glossy lives of the rich and bored.
Can you tell that kind of story in 400 or so pages though? There’s a reason this sort of thing does best on TV with long episodes to get to know the characters. Dune Road has all of the ingredients of something that I’d love and instead it’s just pedestrian and dull and predictable, and not in the fun, “Oh boy the formula is clicking,” kind of way.
From the third person present tense to the dull and bland characters with duller and blander sex lives, to the undercooked abuse sub plot, there’s just nothing much going on in Dune Road, and it’s a shame because someone who knew how to deal with the elements could have made this story sing.
A newly divorced woman moves to the border of the tony Connecticut town she and her Wall Street husband called home. She makes some new friends and gets a job working for a reclusive local celeb. And then, her long lost sister shows up. And her friend seduces her boss! And there’s some sort of con happening? I think? The pieces never quite come together, but I couldn’t help but think as I read it, “with a dark sense of humor and 22 episodes this would be my favorite show. Instead this is a really, really shitty book.”
I don’t even have much to say about it, it’s short, I guess? There’s that. I liked that the ladies in the book all hung out at nice restaurants which is a thing having grown up and still living in the chi chi suburbs. Nice to see that gotten accurate.
The other thing that bugged me, that often bugs me, is that the author is British and puts British idioms and turns of phrase in her American character’s names. No angry man from Connecticut, who just learned that his ex wife’s long lost sister who he’s sleeping with is planning on stealing money from him declare he’s “going to phone” is ex. He’d be calling her. It’s a big big pet peeve of mine.
Up next is Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I think is in the same vein, but probably better because Reese Witherspoon optioned it for a mini series and after Big Little Lies I trust Reese’s taste implicitly.