THREE MARTINI LUNCH by Suzanne Rindell

I felt really quite disappointed with this novel by the time I got to the end. Such a great plot line - three young people wanting to leave their mark on the literary world, baed in New York, with big dreams, talent, ambition. Cliff wants to be the next Jack Kerouac, and will do anything to attain that goal. His father is a very successful New York editor/publisher, Cliff struggling to win his father's approval. Eden is a bright, hardworking and ambitious young woman from the mid-west, looking to become an editor herself, as a woman a laughable and unlikely achievement. Miles is a young black man from Harlem, an insanely talented writer, also looking to make it big, but with more hurdles to jump than either of the other two.

Their progress to the top is thwarted by the usual road blocks - the mean father who won't indulge his wayward son, the glass ceiling and workplace sexual harassment, deeply ingrained racial prejudice to name a few. Has much changed in the decades since?

With these fairly predictable power imbalances being the foundations of the plot, I felt that the three main characters, as well as some of the minor characters,  were on a hiding to nowhere. As a result, with all their talent and brains, it seems to me that the author simply does not want them to win. They all make decisions which, in the end, for me, made them quite unlikeable, their original core values compromised by their ambition. Eden is the only one who remains true to her goal - an editor, but it is a tortuous route there. I wonder if this is how people would behave in real life

What I did like however was how the author wrote about the times - New York and San Francisco at a turning point in our recent history. The author lives in both New York and California and her love of both cities shows in her depictions of fashion, food, cafes, bars, street life, San Fran fog, the three martini lunches in New York where so much business is done - all very Mad Men.

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