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Better Homes and Husbands

Valerie Ann Leff

St. Martin's Press

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.

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BETTER HOMES AND HUSBANDS (Chapter One)The Building

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the building is limestone and red brick, a heavy front door of black iron tracery, a gray canvas canopy with its white-lettered address, Nine-eighty Park Avenue. Here, wealthy New Yorkers occupy grand apartments with their children, cooks and maids. A super lives in the basement, managing doormen, handymen. Throughout the year, drivers in long shiny cars wait by the curb. Nannies push strollers to Central Park, and delivery boys bring groceries around to the service entrance. There are dinner parties, guests,

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REVIEWS

Praise for Better Homes and Husbands

"A novel of manners written with skill and heart and powers of observation as sharp as a boning knife -- my idea of heaven."
- Beth Gutcheon, author of More Than You Know
"A novel of manners written with skill and heart and powers of observation as sharp as a boning knife -- my idea of heaven."
- Beth Gutcheon, author of More Than You Know

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Valerie Ann Leff

  • 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.
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    Better Homes and Husbands

    Valerie Ann Leff

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    St. Martin's Press

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