BookBrowse Reviews Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

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Tuesday Nights in 1980

by Molly Prentiss

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss X
Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 336 pages

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Three lives intersect in this compelling novel that explores the meaning of art and the necessity of pursuing our passions.

BookBrowse First Impression reviewers gave this debut novel about the New York City art world strong marks for its vibrant descriptions and lively recreation of the times.

This is a story of three lives
New York on the cusp of 1980, the changing art scene of Soho before it became officially known as SoHo. This novel follows the lives of three individuals: Lucy in her early twenties coming from Idaho to experience life in a big city; James, who after college has no clue what to do, and whose unique ability enables him to see colors and paintings in a different way will find himself the reigning critic of the art world and Raul, escaping the Dirty War in Argentina as well as his sister's new husband whom he despises, finds himself the art world's new favorite. These three lives entwine in many ways (Diane S). The story begins at a New Year's Eve party on a Monday night, but the events of Tuesday, January 1, become pivotal. Tuesdays are life-changing days throughout the book (Barbara H).

Readers loved the vivid writing and the recreation of a city's past
The descriptive language alone makes the book worth reading. In fact the art is so beautifully described it made me long to see the actual pictures (Debra V). The mood and tone are perfectly conveyed, this author can write! (Ruthie A). The author weaves interesting characters with the seamy, sordid and often splendid backdrop of the New York art scene in the 1980s (Kate Q).

But the characters didn't work for a few readers…
The novel introduces us to characters, telling vs. showing us that they are handsome, gawky, breathtakingly beautiful etc., but often the author outlines the behavior way before the explanation (Ruthie A). The three main characters remain at arm's length, as though they are not fully fleshed out and three-dimensional. I was left feeling a little cold, and so the tragedies and situations did not necessarily move me (Kenan R).

Reviewers caution that the ending might not work for everyone
Not a clichéd happy ending but it shows the characters still have decisions to make, work to do, they still have to change (Diane S). Not everything was resolved at the end but that's fine with me (Louise E).

The deeper themes resonated with many
Art. What is it? Why do it? Who cares? Using fiction in an attempt to answer these questions is commendable and daunting, and Prentiss does a respectable job. At times her prose rambles but her believable characters carry themselves and the reader through some unbelievable situations mostly unscathed...Underneath it all is the question of why: Why pursue a passion? For whom? (Patricia L). The scratches and scars and bad decisions we make in our lives are life. With all of that we can still find beauty and love and hope (Maggie S).

And the novel comes recommended…
Heady with the atmosphere of a teeming, transitional urban environment and graced with the richness of well-crafted prose, this first novel hints at literary pleasures yet to come (Darra W). Highly recommended for lovers of art and contemporary literature and/or those who enjoy a story that demands an engaged reader (Patricia L). I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the arts or life in New York City. It will also interest people who are interested in South American countries where there is much political unrest. This will make a great book club discussion book (Linda B).

This review was originally published in April 2016, and has been updated for the May 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  New York City's SoHo District

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