Indiscretion By Charles Dubow
Release date 4th July 2013
Harry and Madeleine Winslow are blessed with talent, money, and charm. Harry is an award–winning author on the cusp of greatness. Madeleine is a woman of sublime beauty and grace whose elemental goodness belies a privileged upbringing. Bonded by deep devotion, their marriage is both envied and admired by friends who spend summers at their East Hampton idyll.
When a holiday fling turns disastrously wrong, 26-year-old Claire falls into the Winslows’ welcoming orbit. They are enchanted by her youth and intelligence. In turn, Claire is entranced by Harry and Maddy. The love that exists between them is something of which, until now, she could only dream.
Seen through the omniscient eyes of Maddy's childhood friend Walter, a narrator akin to Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, Indiscretion is a story about the complexities of love, the dangerous nature of desire and how obsession can tear apart even the most perfect of worlds.
Thanks to Harper Collins who provided copies in exchange for an honest review.
Claire's Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
Indiscretion was a very different book to what I'm used to reading. The biggest difference was with how it was told, using Walter to tell the story rather than through the eyes of one of the main characters. This was incredibly well done however I found it difficult to read to begin with as I felt it was hard to have an connection to the characters, and I felt no emotion for them. Walters narrative felt very invasive to me, on the verge of obsession over others lives.
Onto the story I felt the concept was very good, I was disappointed Harry gave in so easily to Claire's advances, which made me wonder if maybe Harry and Maddy's marriage wasn't as perfect as it was portrayed. I felt myself disliking Claire a lot, it felt like she just went after Harry due to his profile in society and because she wanted a life similar to Maddy's, this view may have evolved from the disconnection i felt from the characters. I spent a lot of the time reading this, wishing Maddy would give Walter a chance, and that she would get over Harry, I never expected the turn that the book took!
The emotional twist that happened felt like a punch in the chest! Being a wife and a mother I kept imagining how I would feel in Maddy's shoes. This is the only point I felt I connected with a character, as I could imagine and sympathise with the pain Maddy was feeling. I also warmed to Walter and how he cared so much for Maddy that he would give up so much just to be there for her.
Overall I enjoyed reading this. The story was heavy hitting and didn't follow convention with a predictable ending. I just wish I could have been able to have felt more of a connection with the characters, especially at the beginning as the first few chapters I found slow, however as the book progress I found it hard to put down!
Shona's review 4 of 5 stars
The first thing that struck me about this book is the rather unique telling of the tale. The story itself intrigued me but I worried that the telling from Walter's point of view would leave holes in the story making it difficult for the reader to follow Harry and Claire's relationship. I needn't have worried because Walter tells this story beautifully. From almost the beginning of the story it felt like a comfortable chat with an old friend.
Did I like the characters? In the beginning I did. I didn't feel that Claire and Harry interacted very much in the beginning of the book before the affair, she seems to spend more time with Maddy, though you definitely get the impression that Claire's attraction to him is building. I admired Harry resisting Claire's advances the night she declared her feelings for him, I'm sure he chalked it up to excess alcohol. When they meet up a little while later though I was kind of disappointed that he succumbed so easily to her. Though, surprisingly, I was keen to see how their relationship would develop. There was a part of me that really wanted Harry to leave Maddy and make a new life with Claire, and there was a part of me that felt incredibly sorry for Claire because she deserved better than Harry was giving her.
Towards the end of the book I started to really dislike Harry. He claimed to want his wife and marriage back, but he still wanted to string Claire along. A perfect example of wanting his cake and eating it. I think if Maddy had at that point forgiven him he would have gone back home to her, but would still have continued his affair with Claire. I was pleased when Claire made the decision to walk away.
I'm trying really hard to write this spoiler free and because of that I think this is the longest it has taken me to write a review. There is a point in the book where I felt like I had been punched in the gut. If I had been standing up when I read this part of the book I swear my knees would have crumbled and I would have hit the floor. For the first time in the story I felt a real connection to Maddy and her pain became my pain. While this story may not have had the outcome I was hoping for (and as I learned how selfish Harry really was I started to hope that he ended up with neither of the women) I felt Dubow gave us a worthy ending.
This is the story of love, friendship and betrayal. There are no winners, only those who survived but where never really able to live fully again.
About the author
Charles Dubow was born in New York City and lived in the Upper East Side for most of his childhood. Summers were spent with artists and painters, hosting dinner parties and canoeing trips at the family home on Georgica Pond in the Hamptons. After graduating from both Wesleyan and New York University, Charles lived in London and Rome with a view to pursuing his dream of writing, and wrote several unpublished novels. Frustrated by lack of success, he went to work in the magazine industry, and became a founding editor at Forbes.com and later an editor at Businessweek.com. In 2008 however, he decided to give writing one last try. Indiscretion is his first novel, but it's been knocking about his brain for years.Charles lives in New York City with his wife Melinda, children William and Lally, and a labrador retriever named Luke. He is available for comment and to write features.
A Conversation with Charles Dubow
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Indiscretion?
I first had the idea back in 1997 when I started working at Forbes.com. My family had a house on Georgica Pond in East Hampton and we would have great weekend house parties. I lived in an old converted barn on the property and we would cram in our friends, many of whom were also just starting out. They didn't have weekend homes of their own and , like us, some had very young children. There was canoeing and croquet and tennis and trips to the beach. At night we'd grill steaks and get drunk on the back porch and watch the sunset. It was a very happy time, It's all gone now. The house is sold and I no longer go out to that part of the world but I miss it. I wanted to write something that would capture some of that magic. But there's no drama, no tension in that. So I needed something. It's a basic riff on Adam and Eve's ejection from Eden. ut the snake in my book wasnt offering knowledge, at least not in so many words, but rather something even more tempting, such as sex and the recapturing of one's youth.
What was the most challenging aspect of tackling your first novel?
The hardest part was really finding the time and the discipline to write every day. I almost never had a problem knowing what I was going to write. I suppose I'd been letting the book gestate and stew inside of me for so long that I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted when I actually sat down.
Indiscretion has four main characters: Harry and Maddy, the glamorous couple; Claire, the personable new addition to Harry and Maddy's life; and Walter, the affable family friend. It is Walter who tells the story of Harry, Maddy and Claire as a second-hand account. Why is that?
When I had finished it and began showing the manuscript to people, I got a lot of readers saying thow it made them think of Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. What probably happened is that I internalized that process simply by just rereading that book so many times over the course of my life. But that was all subconscious. Consciously, I wanted a strong voice that would be able to tell the story of Harry, Maddy and Claire from an engaged and hardly dispassionate third-person point of view. I knew that a story told from one of the three main protagonists would be even more biased and I wanted the warmth that only a third person narrative can provide.
What I found interesting - and this was only a realization I had once I had completed the manuscript - was that Walter and Harry are really both sides of me, my yin and my yang, my id and super ego, if you will. On the one hand, I have always shared Walters sense of responsibility and propriety, traits engendered in me by my upbringing and parentage, but on the other I have also always had Harry's artistic and unconventional side.
Without giving away too many spoilers, can you tell us how different the final product is from what you originally set out to write?
I had originally thought of making the ending happier, but as the story evolved I realized that it couldn't end that way - and still be satisfying. What remained constant was my desire to write about a life I knew that revolved around real people. I find too many books these days feature characters that are too extreme, not to mention unrealistic. I understand a writer's fascination with creating unique, quirky characters but at the same time it can be hard to relate to them. The people in my book could b e someone you could sit next to at a dinner party - they might seem normal, well-adjusted, etc., but who knows what us really gong on in their lives, what demons haunt them. We all have that. Human beings are already complicated enough.
What would you like readers to take away from Indiscretion?
The message I want most to convey to readers is to always remember the important things in our lives,: love, family, friendship. It sounds obvious, but too often we compromise what matters the most.