Better Homes and Husbands by Valerie Ann Leff

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980 Park, a fictional, pre-war co-op on the Northwest corner of Park Avenue and 83rd Street, houses the rich and famous-Sidney Sapphire, the blonde anchorwoman of ABC News, Angela Somoza, the gorgeous Nicaraguan jet-setter, Bob Horowitz, the former chairman of the United Jewish Appeals, and the usual collection of banking and industrial CEO's, Wall Street magnates, and white-haired philanthropists. The Brooklyn-born doorman, Vinnie Ferretti, joins the ranks when he becomes a major fashion designer.

The building's board, rich as clotted cream, sips gin in the afternoons and devises ways to keep out anyone deemed "inappropriate." Stifled resentments come to a head when the French baroness in the penthouse dies, and two Jewish families in the building suspect the co-op board of more discrimination with regard to prospective buyers than might be legal.

Better Homes and Husbands is a stylish, richly woven novel about class and caste feuds, played out with ferocity and etiquette in a posh New York apartment building during the tumultuous period of social change between 1970 and 2000.


About Valerie Ann Leff

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Valerie Ann Leff is co-director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Portions of this novel have appeared in The Antioch Review, Chelsea, Lilith, and the South Carolina Review.
Published June 1, 2005 by St. Martin's Press. 272 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Some of the class strife is familiar: the building narrowly averts a discrimination suit by admitting more Jewish tenants in the 1980s, for example, and one of the doormen fired in the famous 1976 strike goes on to become a successful fashion designer with a major chip on his shoulder—but there a...

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Publishers Weekly

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Leff serves up a slice of the good life in this group portrait novel, following the lives of the residents of an exclusive prewar co-op building in New York City from the 1970s to the present day.

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