This satire of the politically correct Microsoft set who now populate Seattle is clever, witty, and wonderfully entertaining. In addition to her keen eye for the comical, Semple’s story-telling is partly about the strains that modern day life places on relationships, especially those between parents and children. Mostly, though, her book is just a really fun read.
The term “boomerang generation” is common fodder for New York Times trend pieces, but in The Smart One (Knopf, $24.95), the first novel by local author Jennifer Close, the Coffey family, with its trio of grown children, is anything but common. Claire, the middle sister, has just cancelled her wedding and left her life in New York City. Martha, a registered nurse and the eldest of the siblings, has been home for seven years, working at J. Crew. Their mother, Weezy, oversees the family while keeping a secret from her husband and her children. Adding to the mix is the return home after college of Max, the youngest, with his intimidatingly beautiful girlfriend and secrets of his own. Close tells the Coffeys’ story with pathos, just as she did those of the Girls in White Dresses, her earlier story collection. A talented writer, Close imbues her characters with humor and insight, sometimes hard-earned.