Summary and book reviews of The Locals by Jonathan Dee

The Locals

by Jonathan Dee

The Locals by Jonathan Dee
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2017, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A rural working-class New England town elects as its mayor a New York hedge fund millionaire in this inspired novel for our times - fiction in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan.

Mark Firth is a contractor and home restorer in Howland, Massachusetts, who feels opportunity passing his family by. After being swindled by a financial advisor, what future can Mark promise his wife, Karen, and their young daughter, Haley? He finds himself envying the wealthy weekenders in his community whose houses sit empty all winter.

Philip Hadi used to be one of these people. But in the nervous days after 9/11 he flees New York and hires Mark to turn his Howland home into a year-round "secure location" from which he can manage billions of dollars of other people's money. The collision of these two men's very different worlds - rural vs. urban, middle class vs. wealthy - is the engine of Jonathan Dee's powerful new novel.

Inspired by Hadi, Mark looks around for a surefire investment: the mid-decade housing boom. Over Karen's objections, and teaming up with his troubled brother, Gerry, Mark starts buying up local property with cheap debt. Then the town's first selectman dies suddenly, and Hadi volunteers for office. He soon begins subtly transforming Howland in his image - with unexpected results for Mark and his extended family.

Here are the dramas of twenty-first-century America - rising inequality, working class decline, a new authoritarianism - played out in the classic setting of some of our greatest novels: the small town. The Locals is that rare work of fiction capable of capturing a fraught American moment in real time.

They were saying that all appointments were canceled, indefinitely, that it was the end of everything, but why would they assume that? The subway was running again, for example, parts of it. So people must have been going places, meeting other people. So there were still meetings. So maybe my meeting was still on. I found the lawyer's card and tried to call his office, but cell service was fucked, still, after like a day. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't even ask Yuri for advice, because the phones. What if this meeting was still happening and I wasn't there? What if everybody showed but me? The lawyer had stressed over and over how important it was that I not miss it. Nobody'd told me it was canceled, technically, according to the letter of the law or whatever. So I put on my shoes. It didn't start for a few hours yet, but I had nothing to do, and there was fuck-all on TV that day, that's for sure.

Broadway was frozen, like a screenshot. Nobody ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Locals fades away into a very post-modern conclusion; a more empathic, less raucous Bonfire of the Vanities, or the shadow of a ghost of the classic Spoon River Anthology: a portrait of a time, a place, a people. Dee's novel could find itself in the ranks of the best of recent literary fiction.   (Reviewed by Gary Presley).

Full Review Members Only (767 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dee, who wrote about a wealthy segment of society in The Privileges, handles the plot with admirable skill, finding empathy for his bewildered characters. He creates tension as a reckoning day arrives, and strikes the perfect ending note.

Booklist

Starred Review. Good old social novels are hard to come by these days, great ones harder still. Leave it to Dee to fill the void with a book that's not only great but so frighteningly timely that the reader will be forced to wonder how he managed to compose it before the last election cycle.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. An absorbing panorama of small-town life and a study of democracy in miniature.

Author Blurb Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liar's Club and Lit
In this moving study of how the housing bubble's burst sets a small town's citizens against each other, Jonathan Dee tells a must-read story for our age. Class struggle, tyranny, America's disillusionment after 9/11 - The Locals creates a delicately drawn world impossible to forget.

Author Blurb Nathan Hill, author of The Nix
There could not be a more timely novel than The Locals. It examines the American self and American selfishness from 9/11 until today. Jonathan Dee has given us a master class in empathy and compassion, a vital book.

Author Blurb Rachel Kushner, New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers
The Locals might be the first great Occupy novel of the twenty-first century.

Author Blurb George Saunders
Summons up a small American town at precisely the right moment in our history ... a bold, vital, and view-expanding novel.

Author Blurb Joy Williams, author of The Visiting Privilege
The Locals is an absolutely riveting novel that dares to prod us awake. Whoever has ears let them hear - indeed.

Author Blurb Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog
Blackly comic, effortlessly authoritative, The Locals is almost criminal in its perceptiveness about the screwed state of the American union. Jonathan Dee is a modern American master.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Tanglewood

TanglewoodThe cluster of small towns in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts where The Locals is set is near Tanglewood, a fact referred to several times in the narrative.

The Berkshires have long been a summer get-away destination. There are lodges, cultural sites, and several historical spots, including the homes of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Steepletop), William Cullen Bryant (Homestead), and perhaps the most magnificent of Edith Wharton's homes, The Mount. And the great American novel, Moby Dick, was written in the Berkshires. You can visit Melville's house, Arrowhead, in the Berkshires.

1936 Summer HomeThe highest point in the Berkshires is Crum Hill, 2,841 feet, and the average temperature in the Berkshire County town of Great Barrington ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Locals, try these:

  • Anything Is Possible jacket

    Anything Is Possible

    by Elizabeth Strout

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by #1 bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.

  • Everybody's Fool jacket

    Everybody's Fool

    by Richard Russo

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Richard Russo, at the very top of his game, now returns to North Bath, in upstate New York, and the characters who made Nobody's Fool (1993) a "confident, assured novel [that] sweeps the reader up," according to the San Francisco Chronicle back then. "Simple as family love, yet nearly as complicated." Or, as The Boston Globe put it, "a big, ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.