Alternate Side

Alternate Side

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Captures the angst and anxiety of modern life with . . . astute observations about interactions between the haves and have-nots, and the realities of life among the long-married.”—USA Today A provocative novel that explores what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning,  from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Miller’s Valley and Still Life with Bread Crumbs. Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband, Charlie, lead a charmed life—except when there’s a crisis at work, a leak in the roof at home, or a problem with their twins at college. And why not? New York City was once Nora’s dream destination, and her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor, a tranquil village amid the urban craziness. The owners watch one another’s children grow up. They use the same handyman. They trade gossip and gripes, and they maneuver for the ultimate status symbol: a spot in the block’s small parking lot. Then one morning, Nora returns from her run to discover that a terrible incident has shaken the neighborhood, and the enviable dead-end block turns into a potent symbol of a divided city. The fault lines begin to open: on the block, at Nora’s job, and especially in her marriage.  Praise for Alternate Side “[Anna] Quindlen’s quietly precise evaluation of intertwined lives evinces a keen understanding of and appreciation for universal human frailties.”—Booklist (starred review) “Exquisitely rendered . . . [Quindlen] is one of our most astute chroniclers of modern life. . . . [Alternate Side] has an almost documentary feel, a verisimilitude that’s awfully hard to achieve.”—The New York Times Book Review “An exceptional depiction of complex characters—particularly their weaknesses and uncertainties—and the intricacies of close relationships . . . Quindlen’s provocative novel is a New York City drama of fractured marriages and uncomfortable class distinctions.”—Publishers Weekly
Publisher: [S.l.]: Random House Publishing Group, 2018.
ISBN: 9780812996074
Characteristics: 304 p.
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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ArapahoeJulieH Nov 12, 2019

Quindlen invites us into the lives of the Nora and Charlie and their friends in an upscale Upper West Side NY neighborhood full of “first-world worries” as their kids have coined it. As a recent transplant from NY, this book chronicles what I loved about NYC: its intense diversity and connection.... and, what made it easier to leave: the dichotomy between the lives of the wealthy and those that work for them.

Sep 19, 2019

My least favorite book by this author. Likeable characters were few.

May 11, 2019

Quindlen's writing is always smooth and sophisticated, and this is no exception. But "Alternate Side" is not one of her best. The opening seemed promising, but then it became very hard to get into for a long time. The major incident that everything revolves around doesn't happen until halfway through. At this point many people's lives, the "first world" people, as the daughter of Nora Nolan, the narrator, calls them, who live on the exclusive Manhattan dead end block, and the non-whites who keep their lives running, begin to fall apart. The last third of the book is Quindlen at her introspective, witty best, and almost makes up for the nearly plotless beginning.

Apr 02, 2019

One of the most boring books I have ever read.

Feb 13, 2019

Her books are just like talking to a close friend. She pulls you into her family, neighborhood, and work environment. Nora and her friends say what is in your own mind. Do critical events like a birth, death, divorce, accident or trauma precipitate a re-evaluation of our lives or do the incidents allow us to take the action we already needed to take?

Jan 12, 2019

A story about nothing, or about everything and nothing specific

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen is a story about New Yorkers, though not necessarily those native to the city, but those who have become successful and thrive on its energy and eccentricities.
Nora Nolan and her husband, Charlie, are two of those people as are their neighbours, a privileged few who live on a street that is unique in that it is short and a dead end, allowing limited access and maximum exclusivity.
What makes this book so entertaining is Quindlen’s excellent characterization and authentic dialogue. Indeed, this book has very little plot at all with the inciting incident not even arriving until nearly halfway through the book.
The event that starts this cliquish neighbourhood unravelling is when one of the neighbours brutally assaults Ricky, the handyman for the entire enclave, with a golf club because he blocked the entrance to the exclusive neighbourhood parking lot.
Though the reader might expect dramatic revelations there aren’t any, everything is resolved in a civilized manner, as befitting these very civilized people.
The worst that Quindlen can evoke is the falling out between some neighbours re-enforcing in this reader that you’re often better off not getting to know people too well.
The ending has some uninspired musing by the protagonist about the road untaken. I had the impression the author hoped an appropriate ending would present itself and it didn’t, or it did, and she didn’t have the courage to write it.
I'm not sure if Alternate Side was an entertaining story about nothing or a story about everything, but nothing specific.

Dec 03, 2018

Her other books are much better. I felt the first 240 pages set up the last 40. Nothing really happened in those first 240 pages - nothing to hook you into reading the rest. I did enjoy the last 40 pages - but it took a LONG time to get there.

Nov 08, 2018

Recommended by Strib

mko123 Jul 11, 2018

This book Pulled me in at the beginning but it left me disappointed and bored toward the end.
The set-up was great: an insulated upper middle class Manhattan neighborhood gets shook up when one of their own assaults Ricky, their much-needed handyman. But it turns out the story was more about the unraveling of marriages and finances then about any concern for Ricky. I did not care for any of the characters, other than Ricky and a Haitian nanny called Charity. All the rest seemed to spend their idle time being cleverly sarcastic and complaining about food served at all the ubiquitous dinner parties. In the meantime, Ricky is forgotten in the hospital with a lost leg. A city person could probably appreciate more what this author is trying to say.

_joanna_ Jun 21, 2018

Quindlen is always fun to read, but I struggled with this one. There is a lot of sympathy here for rich people behaving badly, getting off scott-free with no one really having to face up to the consequences of their actions, beyond moments of "feeling stupid." I went into the book expecting it to be a book about what happens when working class and upper class lives intersect, but it turns out that this is just the backdrop for a novel about marriage. I was also left wondering why Nora did not stand up more to her boorish husband and neighbors.

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