Sunday, December 13, 2009

Book Review: "A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living" by Michael Dahlie

Arthur Camden is a well-to-do, middle-aged New Yorker in a bit of a bind. His wife left him (after having affairs through most of their marriage) because he wasn't aggressive enough, he's run his family business into the ground and he doesn't quite know what the next step in his life should be. And bursting into tears in front of other members of the exclusive Hanover Street Fly Casters is probably not the best way to put on a brave face.

Michael Dahlie's book tells the story of a man whose life is collapsing around him and how he finds the strength to carry on. And it's far from an easy path—from getting back into the dating scene, trying to save face with relatives angry with him for botching the family business and wanting to reconcile with his ex-wife despite the fact that she's about to remarry.

A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living is an enjoyable social comedy. Arthur's misadventures and how he copes with them are alternately funny and heartbreaking, and Dahlie's characterizations of Arthur's peers are spot-on. If I had any issue with the book it's that, like Arthur's ex-wife, I wished he was a bit more aggressive as everything was falling down around him and people were ripping him to shreds. But that might not have made his character as memorable.

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