Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

union atlantic

[Editor’s Note: No, your mind is not playing tricks on you – we did have a review of this book previously, but given that we’ve eight contributors, I figured that this would not only happen eventually, but be interesting to see how the reviews compare and contrast]

This book by an American author I hadn’t heard of before is on the surface a modern tale of conflict between a nouveau riche investment banker blow-in from Boston, Doug Fanning and a retired liberal schoolteacher, Charlotte Graves.

Fanning, a high-flying ruthless amoral executive in the eponymous bank has built a trophy home next door to Graves’ run-down farmhouse after buying a site formerly owned by her family which had been donated to the local town, Finden, Massachusetts as parkland in perpetuity.  On the surface it seems a hopeless fight for Graves, now very eccentric, who seems to spend a lot of her time having political discussions with her two dogs. Everyone has a past, however, and Fanning, Graves and the bank are all connected to the local town either directly or indirectly. The fact that Charlotte’s brother Henry is a federal bank regulator who also is investigating Union Atlantic perhaps stretches coincidence too far. I think too many links to current issues are introduced, for example rogue trading and the US wars in the Middle East which aren’t developed.

I found this a reasonably engaging tale of modern America, though perhaps the author over-complicates the history of his main characters, neither of which are particularly likeable, though perhaps their complexity gives a feeling of realism to the novel. Still, worth a read.

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