Book reviews

Helen of Foster Island

Oh, the lovely Helen! Prince Paris couldn’t resist her irresistibleness.  He simply had to steal her from the Spartan king and spirit her to Troy.  But all that is myth of millennia ago.  Reason rules now.  We modernists no longer war over wrongly requited loves. 

Ahem.  Perhaps someone should explain that to Harvard classmates Hugh Shipley and Ed Cantowitz, soon-to-be-feuding best pals of Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance.

Helen Ordway is pledged to Hugh, which is fine with Ed.  The shiksa’s a cold fish and too tall besides.  Also, he doesn’t need any distractions coming between him and making serious dough.  But then the trio embark on a post-graduation last hurrah weekend to Fire Island and the Ordway family’s estate and Ed awakens to Helen’s golden apple charms.  

The weekend ends.  Summer looms. While his two closest friends are off adventuring—Helen plying her typing talents in Paris and Hugh filming Ethiopian Nuers–Ed is marooned on Manhattan, doing a summer stint at Mr. Ordway’s Wall Street firm.  Ed better get used to being alone.  Helen and Hugh’s bond is iron-clad.  Before the year is out, Helen will be Mrs. Shipley, presiding over the home front as Hugh fritters away the dregs of the Shipley family fortune pursuing his quixotic quest to save the third world.

Then Helen shows up at Ordway, Inc.  She’s ended the secretarial gig early.  Is Ed free for lunch? Cocktails? Dinner? Dancing?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes.  All harmless fun.  Ed can escort her about town.  In a week she ships off to meet Hugh. 

But wait. What’s she doing outside Ed’s apartment? What’s she doing inside? Cover your eyes! Ed and Helen are peeling off each other’s clothes! 

Afterward, he feels bad and she feels bad, but Hugh’s none the wiser, right? Right? Isn’t that right, Hugh?

A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon.  Read it.


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