Very Nice

Marcy Dermansky

Very Nice
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Very Nice

Marcy Dermansky

‘Everything you need in your new favourite summer novel’ KEVIN KWAN, AUTHOR OF CRAZY RICH ASIANS   

Rachel Klein never meant to kiss her creative writing professor, but with his long eyelashes, silky hair and the sad, beautiful life he laid bare on Twitter, she does, and the kiss is very nice.     

Zahid Azzam never planned to become a houseguest in his student’s sprawling Connecticut home, but with the sparkling swimming pool, the endless supply of strawberries and Rachel’s beautiful mother, he does, and the home is very nice.     

Becca Klein never thought she’d have a love affair so soon after her husband leaves her for a younger woman, but when her daughter’s professor walks into her home, bringing with him a poodle named Princess, she does, and the affair turns out to be…a very bad idea.   

An ingenious blend of sex, secrets and betrayal, Very Nice is a sharp, compulsive take on modern life from one of America’s most exciting novelists.

Review

Booksellers are frequently asked for recommendations for ‘uplifting’ books. Whether as an antidote to turbulent times, for a relative in hospital, or for a holiday read, a novel with wit and levity is a wonderful thing.

Marcy Dermansky has delivered a panacea for booksellers. Very Nice explores the world of the Klein family. Rachel is home for summer in Connecticut after her first year of college. She has fallen in love with her creative writing professor, Zahid, and hopes that dog-sitting his beautiful poodle, Princess, will lead to something more between them.

Zahid is a migrant from Pakistan. Despite winning accolades and a substantial literary prize for his first novel, he now has writer’s block. His two-year teaching contract is over and he has run out of money.

Improbably, Zahid comes to stay in the beautiful Connecticut home with Rachel and her mother, Becca. Becca is pleased to have some adult company since her husband has left her. Soon Becca and Zahid settle into an easy rhythm of swimming in the pool, eating Becca’s gourmet lunches and walking the dog. Zahid finds himself able to write again, and inevitably they begin an affair.

Dermansky’s novel is clever and comedic. Zahid falls into the role of the hapless author; he’s also incredibly narcissistic. Rachel and Becca are vying for the same suitor and this sets up tension between them. Rachel’s father begins to realise living with his younger girlfriend in a cramped apartment in the city is not as idyllic as he imagined.

Dermansky turns political correctness on its head, and plays with issues of race and sexuality. She introduces a large cast of people into the story, yet manages to make each person multi dimensional. There are touching moments of connection and disconnection between characters, and this combined with plenty of plot builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.


Annie Condon works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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