Kristine I. (Marion, IL)
Worth The Time
I found A Dual Inheritance a slow but rich read. In some ways it reminded me of The Emperor's Children in that it seemed to have a thread of humor and irony running under the surface of the story. I found myself drawn into the times and places of the characters' lives and reflecting on my own life and how choices and circumstances have changed me. At times it felt that there should be more explanation behind the character's motivations, but the way it is written makes it a book that would lend itself to lively book group discussions. Recommended!
A Heartfelt Story
Once I finally got the chance to read "A Dual Inheritance" I could not put it down. I really enjoyed reading about two different families and how they were connected, especially when the daughters met up in school. I think it would be a great book club book as there are a number of characters with different personalities to discuss, plus it's a great book with a great story.
Lucy B. (Urbana, OH)
A Dual Inheritance
I thought the book was very well written, although it was lengthy and took me a while to get to the end. In fact, I read the book a second time just to make sure I hadn't missed something. Hugh Shipley and Ed Cantowitz each thought the other would be the most successful after they graduated from college. But I couldn't make a judgment which one won. I guess my judgment of what success is might not be the same as someone else's.
Sheila S. (Supply, NC)
A Dual Inheritance
I enjoyed "A Dual Inheritance" but wished that the main characters had been better developed. I just didn't get some of the motivations, starting with the improbable friendship between Ed Cantowitz and Hugh Shipley and then with Helen's relationship with Ed. And what about the visit to Helen's home where Ed was treated to a big dose of anti-Semitism - surely Hugh and Helen could have predicted that outcome. Ed's eventual legal problems didn't quite resonate with his portrayal as an ambitious but ethical businessman. And Hugh's infidelities were disappointing. However I loved the last part of the book where all of the characters reunite for Vivi's wedding celebration and there is an unpredictable but happy ending. It was funny and sad and very well written. I also enjoyed the different foreign settings. All in all, I liked the book and will recommend it to friends.
Shaun D. (Woodridge, IL)
A Dual Inheritance
Warning - contains plot spoilers....
I found this book a decent, albeit predictable, read. Nothing terribly exciting or surprising happens and the 2 main characters plod along their unoriginal narratives until the book just ends.
It's a story that's been told many, many times, whether it's 2 brothers, or 2 sisters, or in this case, 2 friends. One friend comes from old-money 'haves' & the other from the wrong side of the tracks with the requisite chip on his shoulder 'have-nots'. Hugh, the 'have' character, disdains the family name, money & inherent priviledges. Ed, the 'have-not' friend (as if just being the poor but brilliant and determined 'have-not' isn't sufficient, he is also Jewish in a setting where that's snobbily derided) dedicates his life to working ridiculously hard and amasssing enough of a fortune that his Jewishness is overlooked in favor of his new-found social standing. Fast forward a few decades, after Hugh realizes that he has spent his life trying to rid himself of what he finally realizes ... is his essential self. He performs the requisite charity work in Africa, marries the WASP-y girl of his dreams, has a family and then, ultimately realizes .... that being from a long line of wealth & priviledge isn't inherently a bad thing, that it's (say it with me now) what you do with said life & wealth & priviledge is what ultimately counts. And of course the same with Ed's journey. He predictably realizes that he was fine as he was made, and that having a goal of making more-than-enough money to buy your way into the snobby country-club life, at the end-of-the-day, leaves one hollow and empty. Thus the 'Dual Inheritence' theory (the title refers to the 2 major factors that contribute to a personality: nature/culture/surroundings nurture/genes/family, etc) leaves the reader to decide: all that Hugh did, everywhere he traveled, he ultimately (and predictably) realized that internally he simply IS from the right-side-of-the- tracks & that's OK. And Ed? Same self-discovery: he made the money, bought the clothes, the homes, all of his focus on the exterior, only to realize that no one sees him any differently b/c he's still the same forthright-to-the-point-of-being obnoxious person on the inside & that's OK. Just like this book itself.......just OK.
Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
Could Have Been Better
Once again, the author wrote what was a potentially good story and spread it out over 400 pages rather than 300. The character development was poor, especially for the secondary storyline. I found myself wanting to know more about some characters and a lot less about the the thought processes of the two main characters. In this instance, shorter would have been better.
Erin G. (Dulles, VA)
A Dual Inheritance: a tale of two families
I really enjoyed this novel exploring the choices made by two young Harvard students and the way the lives they make for themselves affect their children's perception of the world. It is easy to become engrossed in the characters as they try to make sense of their changing times and circumstances. This would make an excellent book club choice, because there's so much to discuss: would Ed's life have taken a different path if he'd stayed with Connie? Could Hugh have been happy if he'd been born without the money and privilege that he felt as a burden? The title is intriguing as it applies to the main characters and their daughters, and the effect of inherited traits versus inherited culture. I also loved the ending of the epilogue, when ultimately lives become so intertwined that the details no longer matter. All in all, a thoroughly entertaining read.