Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

2 of 16
400 pages; William Morrow
Forty-something Harry and Madeleine Winslow are a golden couple, so richly blessed you know it's only a matter of time before the gods send trouble their way. From the first chapter of Charles Dubow's smart, sensuous, and moving debut novel, Indiscretion (William Morrow), betrayal and heartbreak seem inevitable. All that's left is to fill in the details. And what delicious details they are. The characters exude a Jazz Age glamour, cavorting at parties and restaurants in the Hamptons, Manhattan, Paris, and Rome, relishing strong drinks, decadent food, and witty banter. "I refuse to lift a finger unless it's to join the other four wrapped around a glass tinkling with ice," the novel's narrator, Walter, quips during one such party. Walter, a participant-observer reminiscent of The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway, has passed decades in unrequited love with the warm and effortlessly stunning Maddy; she is devoted to Harry, an ex-jock turned award-winning novelist. Walter accepts his third-wheel status, settling for chaste friendship. Not so Claire, whose affair with Harry is as consuming as it is doomed. "They are all who matter. The outside world does not exist," observes Walter. "The world for them is this France, this Paris, this room, this bed."
— Karen Holt