Addled Review
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While the outside world may change, things have been the same at the Eden Rock Country Club for generations. It’s the center of the social circles of the finest families in New England, who regularly gather there to golf, swim, dine, and gossip. They intermingle and intermarry. They pass their memberships down to their children like valuable family heirlooms. And they pretend that every one is just fine, thank you—even when they’re not. Because it’s the proper thing to do.

One summer, ERCC finds itself facing a band of unwelcome new members—a huge flock of geese. They’re noisy, they’re dirty, and they’re disturbing the members—especially Charles Lambert, who hasn’t been the same since he accidentally killed one of them with a bad drive. The club’s by-the-book young manager, Gerard Wilton, would do anything to get rid of the geese, but nothing seems to work. And it doesn’t really matter—because it’s too late. Charles, a respected member, seems to have lost his mind. His wife, Madeline, is trying to keep up appearances—but it doesn’t help that their tree-hugging daughter, Phoebe, has set up a protest at the gates, demanding that the club go vegan. It’s enough to drive Vita, the club’s fanatical chef, to do something crazy.

Anyone who’s spent time trying to make sense of the exclusive social circles of proper New England society will find some light entertainment in Addled. Hart tells an amusingly accurate and carefully detailed story with characters that you’re sure to find at any exclusive club. Some of the situations are brilliant—like the secret record book that the club’s women have kept since shortly after the club began, to keep the club member’s children from, ahem, ill-advised marriages. And the humor is, ironically, subtle and refined—more of a carefully calculated chuckle than a hearty belly laugh.

While the story is filled with some wonderfully quirky characters, each with his or her own challenges and problems, I found it rather difficult to understand and relate to some of the more central characters. Many of the less important characters seem more concrete than Charles and Madeline Lambert, for instance, who get much of the book’s focus but whose personalities and motivations always seem to be just a little bit fuzzy.

Though Hart’s laid-back style makes for a slower read, her understated humor makes Addled an interesting read—and a noteworthy debut novel.

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