At the heart of Union Atlantic lies a test of wills between a young banker, Doug Fanning, and a retired schoolteacher, Charlotte Graves, whose two dogs have begun to speak to her. When Doug builds an ostentatious mansion on land that Charlotte's grandfather donated to the town of Finden, Massachusetts, she determines to oust him in court. As a senior manager of Union Atlantic bank, a major financial conglomerate, Doug is embroiled in the company's struggle to remain afloat. It is Charlotte's brother, Henry Graves, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, who must keep a watchful eye on Union Atlantic and the entire financial system. Drawn into Doug and Charlotte's intensifying conflict is Nate Fuller, a troubled high-school senior who unwittingly stirs powerful emotions in each of them.
Irresistibly complex, imaginative, and witty, Union Atlantic is a singular work of fiction that is sure to be read and reread long after it causes a sensation this spring.
A plot of land. Thats what Doug told his lawyer. Buy me a plot of land, hire a contractor, and build me a casino of a house. If the neighbors have five bedrooms, give me six. A four-car garage, the kitchen of a prize-winning chef, high ceilings, marble bathrooms, everything wired to the teeth. Whatever the architecture magazines say. Make the envying types envious.
What do you want with a mansion? Mikey asked. You barely sleep in your own apartment. Youd get nothing but lost.
Finden, Doug told him. Build it in Finden.
And so on a Sunday morning in January 2001, Mikey had picked Doug up at his place in Back Bay and they had driven west out of Boston in a light snow, the gray concrete of the overpasses along the Mass Pike blending with the gray sky above as they traveled the highway that Doug had traveled so often as a kid. It had been six years now since hed moved back up to Massachusetts from New York. What had brought him ...
Adam Haslett has absorbed the newspaper headlines and reimagined them as a pitch-perfect, tightly plotted novel of a singular moment in all-too-recent American history.... Union Atlantic is a novel sent into the future, a novel so embedded in its time that, like The Great Gatsby or Bonfire of the Vanities, it will epitomize a specific cultural moment to later generations... Haslett brings into embodiment the individual desires that power the global financial network.
(Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Full Review (1193 words).
Many of the reviews and articles about Union Atlantic (like this one, or this one) laud Adam Haslett for writing about the collapse of the financial markets before it happened. He handed his editor a first draft of the book the week that Lehman Brothers folded in 2008, one of the events that precipitated the current recession. But the book is set much earlier, in the spring, summer, and fall of 2002, and one of the book's pleasures is the way it nominates this particular moment for historical attention. In the long shadow of the 9/11 attacks, some of the events that crop up in the novel include:
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