Review: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Modern LoversTitle: Modern Lovers

Author: Emma Straub

Pages: 358 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

From the “New York Times” bestselling author of “The Vacationers,” a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college their own kids now going to college and what it means to finally grow up well after adulthood has set in.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them can never be reclaimed.

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions be they food, or friendship, or music never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.”

The Review

Emma Straub’s latest book is about people. Seems simple enough to say but once you get into Modern Lovers you realise that there is nothing more complex or more fragile in this world than the lives of humans.

Modern Lovers centres on a group of ‘incestuous’ friends and their children and the lives that they lead in modern day New York. Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe were all once in a band, however, having grown up and settled down their lives become seemingly humdrum and work-a-day. It is only with the prospect of a film being made about their band that they begin to understand just how much life has changed for them.

I didn’t love Modern Lovers, in fact to begin with I really struggled to get into it. However, I persevered and realised that it is actually quite fascinating and that Emma Straub has woven a complex web of characters whose lives entangle (and strangle?) them. They run the risk of existing and not living. Straub manages to make the mundane come to life.

An element that I really loved about this book was the innocent nature of first love. Straub’s portrayal of this between Harry and Ruby was sweet but realistic. It was everything first love should be. Emma Straub got this right.

If you pick Modern Lovers up to read then please make sure you stick with it. It seems a bit slow at first but the tension and drama does pick up to the point that you cannot put it down.

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is available from June 30th 2016.

Follow Emma Straub (@emmastraub) on Twitter and for more information please visit her official website

For further titles from Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit

3 Stars

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