Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.
When Robert suspects his new houseguest of getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack and all the little lies he tells start to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, threatening to destroy anyone who stands in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.
Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, building to a wicked twist you won't see coming.
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Read an Excerpt
Man of the Year
Our omniscient observer flaps her hand at us. “Closer,” she demands. “Squeeze in. There you go.”
Contrary to the assumption held by photographers around the world, wearing black and avoiding conversation does not render one invisible at parties. She needn’t shout and wave her arms as though we’re children.
“Pretend you like each other.” She laughs at her own tired joke.
She fancies herself a fly on the wall, both an artist and an illusionist, zooming around like a goth banshee in this pop-up ballroom in a fancy tent, capturing moments so that we may objectify ourselves later. We’ll sort through pages of proofs to find the images that best represent us—which is to say, represent us most handsomely. She stands on chairs for better angles. She drags my family outside so we can pose in better light.
I wrap my arm around Elizabeth’s shoulder and pull her into my armpit.
“I can’t feel my cheeks,” she mutters without breaking her smile.
“Missed your calling,” I whisper.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“Ventriloquist,” I say, and she goes ha-ha without moving her lips.
The photographer wags her finger. “Give me just one more minute, Dr. Hart, and you can talk all you want.”
Jonah groans. “Can we take the picture, please?” He’s being rude, but it’s what we’re all feeling. There are hands to shake and an open bar to drain. We’ve been held hostage long enough.
“Cool it, Son,” I say. “Let the girl do her job.”
Another flick of the hand, another test shot, then showtime. “Beautiful family,” she declares: unsolicited approval. “Just great. Okay, now everyone—say, ‘Forhe’sajollygoodfellow!’?”
We laugh despite ourselves, and the flash pops, and my beautiful family is digitally captured in a state of joy and intimacy.
“Christmas card,” Elizabeth says. She drops her head and massages her temples. “If that turns out, we should make it our Christmas card.”
“We’ll see.” It’s only June, and besides, it feels vulgar to send Season’s Greetings with an image taken solely in honor of me.
Jonah is already halfway to our table when Elizabeth shouts, “Come back here.” To the photographer, she says, “Wait.”
I take my wife gently by the elbow. “Do you have Stockholm syndrome? We’re free to go. Let’s go.”
She’s looking past me, nervously assessing someone or something over my shoulder. “Don’t you think we ought to take one with Nick?”
“With Nick? No. Let’s go.”
“Look at him, Bobby.” I follow her gaze to the brooding young man leaning against the reception table, waiting for Jonah. My eyes linger on a giant poster of my face—pupils large as thumbprints, smile as big as a dinner plate—bearing the caption Dr. Robert Hart: Sag Harbor Citizen of the Year.
“Yeah,” I concede, “he’s photogenic. Doesn’t mean he should be in our picture.”
“Not what I meant. You don’t think it’s cruel to make him watch us take family photos when he doesn’t have any family at all?”
“We hardly know the kid.”
“He’s not a stranger, Bobby.”
“You know what I mean.”
“He’s important to Jonah,” Elizabeth says. “That’s what matters. I want him to feel comfortable and not resentful.”
Resentful of what? Our happy family? I’m not concerned with Nick Carpenter’s resentments, but I do care about my son, and Lizzie’s right, of course. Nick has been good for him. Jonah was a grade-A loner those first two years in the dorms, but now he has a roommate who’s also a friend, which means he must have a social life, which means maybe he’ll stop threatening to drop out of college every time the going gets rough, and maybe he’ll figure out what he wants to do with this privileged life of his.
Jonah joins our huddle. “What’s up?”
“Lizzie thinks Nick should be in a picture.”
Disregarding the stage of our current debate, Jonah waves his friend over. So that settles that. Without taking his hands out of the pockets of his rented tuxedo, Nick pushes his body off the table and saunters toward us. He should have shaved for tonight. He should have combed his hair at least, but something tells me this messy look is intentional. Is that the style? And moreover: When did I get old enough to start thinking, Kids these days . . .?
“One more,” Elizabeth tells the photographer, who has been fidgeting with straps and tripods during our family meeting, while awaiting our verdict. To Nick, Lizzie smiles and says, “Get in here.”
And so, once more we squeeze together, pretending to like one another, and this time when the flash pops, we say, Cheese.
• • •
Raymond is ready for me when I meet him at the bar. He hands me one of the gin and tonics in his hands and clinks my glass with his. “Nice speech you gave up there, Sergio de Berniac.”
“Cyrano,” I say. We drink.
“Cyrano de Bergerac.”
“Okay, Yale-boy,” he mocks.
“Hey, I’m not the only Yalie in the house tonight, dickhead.”
Scanning a crowd of stand-up citizens in black tie, he says, “Clearly not. I’m about to go into septic shock from all the bullshit in the air.”
“Cute.” I down the rest of my drink and toast the bartender with my empty glass. “Two more?” He nods and goes about making our watered-down cocktails.
“I’m not kidding,” Raymond tells me. “That speech was something else. Got a tear in my eye, no lie.”
“Sure it wasn’t from all the bullshit in the air?”
“That’s true, but it was still touching. You’re sort of a big deal around here, huh?”
I roll my eyes.
“Hey, enjoy it while it lasts,” he says. “Once you reach the pinnacle, there’s nowhere to go but down.”
“I’m having second thoughts about inviting you.”
He laughs. “In all seriousness, I’m proud of you, man. This is great.”
“Thanks.” I choke down the compliment. “It was cool of you to come. You really didn’t have to.”
“Hey, my oldest friend gets knighted, and you think I’d miss it?”
“Knighted. Yeah, right. Sir Man of the Year right here.”
“Sir Citizen, actually.”
“Exactly. Fuck these guys. They don’t even know.”
“No they don’t,” I say, and we clink glasses and drink again.
Raymond Harrison: my only friend from the South Shore who stayed true long after I left town. Ray gets me, and he forgives me, because even though he’s stayed loyal to West Babylon and claims he’d never leave for a million bucks, we both know his conviction is born of fear. As long as he shields himself from what he’s missing, he won’t miss it. So he visits me in Sag Harbor sometimes, and we talk about the old days and how Long Island has changed. He’ll tell me about some new bar that just opened, or about his new supervisor or apprentice, and we’ll debate whether renovations at the Coliseum were worth the Islanders’ troubles, and how the Jets still can’t seem to pull it off, but how the Mets might surprise us—until they don’t. When we run out of things to hash and rehash, we’ll talk about our families. He’ll ask too many questions, wanting to know if his troubles are normal. Then he’ll go home to his normal and I’ll go home to mine, and we’ll each do our best to forget about the other normal: the one he’ll never have, the one I left behind. Six months later, we’ll do it again.
On the far end of the dance floor, a twelve-piece band begins playing “Lady in Red.” Given as how the only woman wearing a red evening gown tonight is my wife, de facto lady of honor, I take this as my cue to showcase romance for public approval.
“I ought to go,” I tell Ray. A city councilman with an untied bow tie is asking my wife to dance. She’s looking around, presumably for me, presumably for a rescue from wandering hands and whiskey breath. The pervert takes her by the waist. “Duty calls.”
“Yeah, I really feel for you, man.” Ray smirks. “I swear, if she was anybody’s wife but yours . . .”
“I said if. Give me a break. But believe me when I say there’s not a man in this room who wouldn’t if he could.”
“I get it. You want to bang my wife.”
He laughs out loud. “No, Bobby. Everyone wants to bang your wife.”
I slap him on the back. “Class act as always, Raymond. Class act.”
“Hey, I’m just looking out for you. Like I said, shit gets real at the top. You’ve got a position to defend.” This cracks him up.
“Thanks for the support. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get to the front lines.”
His laughter lingers even as I turn my back and walk away. It takes everything in me not to throw a middle finger in the air, but there are cameras here, and we both know his fuckery is an expression of endearment. Ray still sees himself as a big dog teasing the runt of the litter, which may be as close to brotherly love as I’m liable to get in this lifetime, so I’ll take it. Let him laugh. We both know this runt is doing just fine.
The dance floor is clear except for a few couples on the periphery still hugging in circles or cycling through their stock sequences of dips and spins—and Elizabeth, of course. All eyes are on my Elizabeth, a slip of fire, red satin fluttering at her feet. In this moment, she is not just desirable. She is desired. And she is mine. Is there anything more seductive than knowing I’m the one they all wish they could be? The political perv has been replaced by Nick Carpenter—all of what, twenty? He rests his fingers on my wife’s lower back. Lizzie twirls under his other hand and lets him spin her toward his chest, where he catches her body and twists with it. They laugh. Guests form a crescent moon around them.
“Excuse me,” I mumble, pushing my way through a crowd that’s nearly an audience. “Coming through.” I say it loud enough to amuse the guests, as though I’m Bogie going after Bacall. People applaud when I cross the shiny parquet floor, tap this kid (who should have shaved) on the shoulder, and say, “May I cut in?”
To his credit, Nick understands that it isn’t a question. He bows and takes his hands off my wife, and he is young and bashful after all. Good on him to take the moment by the balls, but now his moment is over. I grab Elizabeth’s waist and let the room explode with cheers and whistles. As if I’d fired the gun that says go, couples flood the floor for one last slow dance before driving home drunk to pay babysitters on time, or to gossip about who did what when, who looked different and why, how the food was, how the band was, who should be nominated next year, and who should win. Every man will elect himself, and tonight, when they watch their own wives crawl into bed, they’ll wonder if Elizabeth Hart sleeps in stained T-shirts and cotton briefs too, but I’ll be the only one who knows unequivocally that no, she does not.
“I see Ray’s here,” Elizabeth acknowledges. She smiles, as if this pleases her. Anyone watching us now would think we’re talking about someone she likes. “Did you two have a nice chat?”
“He is and we did,” I say. “It was good of him to come.”
“So good. Any lewd comments worth reporting, or is the night still young?”
“Nothing to report,” I lie. “He’s on his best behavior.” Raymond is still leaning against the bar, sipping gin and watching us dance. Elizabeth and I nod in his direction. He raises his glass. Here, here. “See? Perfect gentleman.”
“A regular Prince Charming.” She kisses me on the mouth. Somewhere behind me, a camera flash flares.
“He liked your speech,” I tell her as she twirls out, then back, settling into the nook where my neck and shoulder meet.
“Your speech,” she corrects.
“Said it nearly made him cry.”
“Gauche and sensitive, is he? What a special man.”
“He said the part about my wife being my rock gave him a hard-on.”
She slides her cheek away from mine and gives me that look, and she knows what she’s doing with her little smile, those sleepy eyes. “You liked that, did you?”
With one strong hand on her back and another at her waist, I pull her body closer, pressing her hips into mine. “Yes. I did.” I delight in her act of discovery.
“Wow,” she says. “Everyone’s hot for my speech tonight, huh?”
“My speech,” I whisper.
She brings her lips to my ear and whispers back, “Song’s almost over. You’d better put that thing away.”
Reading Group Guide
This readers group guide for Man of the Year includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guesthouse. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.
But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. The novel opens with Robert, Elizabeth, and Jonah suffering through a photo shoot at the Citizen of the Year event. Does this initial introduction to Dr. Hart and his family seem like a metaphor for the picture-perfect façade Dr. Hart wishes to present? Discuss how Nick’s inclusion in the final photo symbolizes a disruption in their family dynamic.
2. Recall Robert’s reaction when he sees the family photo in print—both in the newspaper (p. 59) and in the proofs mailed to him toward the end of the book (p. 262). How does his perception of the very same image change as his fears, assumptions, and misconceptions change? What are some other ways in which people see things differently based on their own life experiences and access to information?
3. Discuss Jonah and Robert’s relationship. Is the angst in their father-son dynamic understandable, or does the tension between them seem extraordinarily fraught? Consider in your response Jonah’s remark at the end of Chapter 2 that his father “just isn’t my people” (p. 22).
4. Children—the choice of whether to have kids, the manifestation of love for them, a parent’s responsibility to his or her own, the commitment to childhood friends, a community’s treatment of children, and the intergenerational patterns that either break or repeat—are central themes in the novel. Discuss the many ways in which this theme is explored in Man of the Year. You might consider Raymond and Robert, Kayla, Elizabeth, Jonah, and Nick in your response.
5. In countless ways throughout the novel, Robert claims to have Elizabeth’s best interest at heart, like when he urges her to join the local women’s book club or prods her into hosting a party to honor Nick’s memory. On page 86, Robert says he just wants them to be happy and that it gives him “great pleasure to watch her mull over the possibilities of an idea she now thinks was her own.” Do you think Robert’s desire for Elizabeth’s happiness is genuine, or does he misunderstand power for love? Could there be a different motivation driving Robert’s choices?
6. Robert Hart muses to himself during his unnecessary exam on Nick: “In what other work dynamic must one submit to inspection like this? No banker gets to squeeze another man’s neck without resistance. Architects can’t shove objects down throats without arrest. Doctors, however are expected to do as much and more” (p. 103). Discuss Robert’s work and the ways it shapes his worldview and behavior. How can the same framework be applied to other characters and their jobs: for example, Elizabeth seeing the world through a literary lens?
7. “Today I have a choice: love or hate” (p. 125). Robert repeats this to himself as a kind of mantra. Elizabeth muses on the simultaneously touching and nauseating memory of her ex-husband’s poetry written in her honor. And after Nick’s funeral, his aunt, Naomi, admits to herself that she has “no way of trusting whether the thing I call love isn’t hate in disguise” (p. 183). Explore the thin line between love and hate that so many of the characters straddle in Man of the Year. Consider Jonah in your response too, and the complicated relationship he has with Robert.
8. Revisit the scene beginning on page 145 when Robert first discovers Nick’s body. In light of the novel’s ending, what details do you now notice that you might have missed the first time? Compare this to Elizabeth’s recollection of the morning Nick died (pp. 276–280). How is her reaction different from Robert’s? How is it similar?
9. How does Simone work as a foil in Robert’s story? How does she work as a savior? In many ways, she appears to be the foundational glue that holds his fragile narrative together. Do you think Robert might have been investigated by police if not for Simone’s interference with the blood vials and her covering up on his behalf?
10. Jonah’s false confession to his father turns out to be very useful in helping Dr. Hart cover his own tracks. Does Robert’s willingness to help his son ultimately come from love or from selfishness? Is it possible Robert is equally motivated by both? If so, do you think that makes him a relatable character? Why or why not?
11. Power is a central theme in Man of the Year. The shifting of power dynamics—or the threat of such shifts—causes much of the chaos that ensues in the story, such as Nick’s perceived relationship with Elizabeth, and the complex web of lies Jonah tells his father to undermine his stability. Consider other instances in the novel where a power struggle results in problems for the characters.
12. Another recurring theme concerns rules: who makes them, who abides by them, who benefits from them, who disregards them. On page 45, Luna thinks, “I did everything right . . . yet somehow I’m the one who’s being punished.” Simone tells Dr. Hart, “‘I follow the rules. . . I spend my whole life being a nice girl, thinking one of these days I’ll finish first, but where has it gotten me, huh?’” (p. 153). Officer Diaz says, “My whole life, I’m taught that the only way to be taken seriously is to do my job and do it well. So I do that, and I get here, and the rules change” (pp. 160–161). And Nick’s aunt, Naomi, mocks: “Ever since we were little: be good girls, listen to Mother and Daddy, marry nice boys, obey the law. Trust the men in charge for no other reason than because they’re in charge. Trust your parents because they made you” (p. 183).
Compare these frustrations to Robert’s approach to rules. Consider the story Emily tells on pages 74–75, about the time Robert broke into his high school, then let an innocent classmate take the fall. Why do you think Robert is spared the angst other characters experience in this regard? How do your answers affect your understanding of Elizabeth’s choices as revealed in her confessional at the end of the book?
13. Man of the Year is mostly Robert’s story told from his point of view, and yet several times throughout the novel we are granted access to the perspectives of those around him. Most notably, the novel does not end in Robert’s voice but in Jonah’s. How does this point to the changes that occur throughout the book? Conversely, note the characters whose perspective we never see. Why do you think the author chose to deny us those characters’ voices?
14. On pages 46–47, Robert watches his wife and son set the table, comparing their behavior to performance art. “There are things we can say without reproach when Nick’s in the room. Other things get cut from the scene.” In many ways, the greatest disruption to the Harts’ family dynamic is the “extra set of eyes” (p. 47). Is it natural for people to alter their behavior when they know they are being observed? In what ways do you edit yourself around friends? Colleagues? Family members? Acquaintances?
15. Given the last line of the book, do you think all of Robert’s secrets are safe? What do you think will happen to the Hart family?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Jonah admits to his therapist that the idea to hurt his father came to him when he learned about the life of the famous French author Colette. Read one of Colette’s books—Break of Day, perhaps, or My Mother’s House and Sido—with your book club, just as Elizabeth, Luna, Nick, and Jonah planned to do. Discuss the ways Elizabeth may have seen herself in Colette’s words. What did Elizabeth mean when she said, “The way [Colette] rewrote herself is almost sorcery” (p. 91)? Do you agree with Jonah’s assessment that “the true parts are the most interesting parts, no matter how she edits her story” (p. 290)?
2. In his closing soliloquy, Robert says his actions have all been in service of protecting his family. “In the messes we make, the awakenings, the messes we fix, the lives we choose and the ones we inherit, in the better or worse, the ambiguity and ambivalence, in the things we can never undo and the things undone in effort . . . we are family.” (p. 263). Do you believe Robert succeeded in saving his family? Consider your own family dynamics. Are you dedicated to yours at all costs, like Robert? Or are you afraid of becoming one of your parents, like Jonah? Perhaps you consider your best friends to be family, much like Jonah and Nick, Robert and Ray, or Elizabeth and Shae once did. Share with your book club your feelings about family and friendships over Thai food, drawing upon themes Elizabeth addresses in her monologue at Lemongrass. Your group might share personal anecdotes or partake in a discussion of nature versus nurture over dinner. Talk about being seen as a channel or current rather than a source or charge.
3. On page 286, Elizabeth cites an awareness of Robert looking at her “like Ingrid Bergman in Stromboli. Looking like Ingrid Bergman on Stromboli, for that matter—which is exactly how Luna and Monique see me too, for entirely different reasons.” Host a movie night with your group to watch this classic film, followed by a discussion of the film’s notorious production. Share your thoughts about what Elizabeth may have meant when she talked about how she is seen.
4. Make a playlist of the songs mentioned in this book and host a listening party, taking note of the lyrics. Discuss why you think those songs appear in the story.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
*3-3.5 stars. Dr Robert Hart is Sag Harbor's Man of the Year, an honor voted on by previous winners, one of whom is an accused child-molester who may have bought his way out of trouble, so it's hardly a great honor in my book. But the man has everything society values: a successful practice, a beautiful wife, a gorgeous beachfront home, a loving college-age son. The kink in his happiness is he thinks every man wants to bed his wife and since they both cheated on their first spouses when they met and started an affair, neither of them can really trust the other not to stray. So he becomes more and more paranoid after she invites his son's handsome college friend to spend the summer in their beach house without asking him first. Every look, every gesture is a sign the two of them are having an affair. What is Robert willing to do to put a stop to this, to keep his 'happy' marriage intact? Good writing but I'm afraid my rating is influenced by how much I disliked these characters. I also thought the ending was severely dragged out. By that point, I really didn't care who had done what. I received an arc of this debut thriller from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity; I apologize for the latest of reading and posting my review.
The relationships and situations in this novel all seem skewed and unbelievable. None of the characters are likeable or have any redeeming qualities. The “twists” are predictable and the decisions made by supposed intelligent people are poor and unrealistic.
Man of the Year is a multiple point of view novel that delves deeply into the personal lives and inner worlds of many of the characters. It’s a stark look at love, paranoia, family, and what people will do to get or keep what they believe they deserve. Thank you to Gallery Books for the ARC! The opinions in this review are honest and my own. #ManOfTheYear
You know those characters that we love to hate? Well, Man of the Year is full of them, some of which you won't even realize you should hate for quite some time. I suppose this one falls under the thriller genre, and the book does have the right pacing for it. The story does have its share of tragedy, but once things start happening, it has elements of dark comedy as well. As Dr. Hart piles mistake on top of mistake, it's a bit like a train wreck - you don't want to see, but you can't look away. This one has infidelity at its core, after all that's how the doctor's second marriage started, but it's really based on paranoia and how far one person is willing to go once that sets in. The story does have its share of twists, some I saw coming and some, not so much, but I have to say that this author's timing is quite good on that front. In the end, I can't say that I liked any of the characters, and I certainly didn't agree with their actions. That said, whether because of sheer incredulity or interest in how it would all play out, the story did hold my attention. Walker has shown definite promise in this debut novel, and I'll be interested to see what she has for us next.
Man of the Year is Caroline Louise Walker's debut novel. Dr. Robert Hart has it all - his practice is doing well, beautiful home in Sag Harbor, a boat in the marina, a gorgeous younger wife - and he's just been named man of the year. His son Jonah was struggling but his college roomate Nick seems to have helped him find his way. So when his wife asks Nick to spend the summer with them, he can't say no. Nick can have the guest cottage of course. But how Robert envisioned the summer doesn't seem to be quite what's happening. He's sure that Nick is hitting on his wife - and that she is welcoming his advances. And so, the good doctor decides to (subtly) confirm and correct this issue. And so he lies. (about what I'm not going to say as I don't want to provide a spoiler) And that one lie leads to another - and another and ..... The first half of the book is told through the good doctor's voice. He is most definitely an unlikable character. He's the definition of supercilious - arrogant, smug and more. In the second half of the book, the supporting players are given a voice. Now, I'd like to say that they were the opposite of Robert, but they weren't. There was just something off about all of them. And I found all of them unlikable as well. Kudos to Walker for her characterizations. Walker does a wonderful job manipulating the reader's perceptions along the way to a wonderful last gotcha. Do we believe Robert's view of what's happening? Are the supporting players telling the truth? The unraveling of Bobby Hart is an accident you can't help but rubberneck. I chose to listen to Man of the Year. The lead role was voiced by George Newbern, one of my favourite narrators. He has a wonderfully expressive voice that perfectly suited my mental image of this character. Disdainful and condescending. He has interpreted the role perfectly. I really enjoy a full cast of readers rather than just one. Man of the Year employed three other readers to tell this tale - Cassandra Campbell, Michael Crouch and Gabra Zackman. Again, the voices matched the script. Softer for the wife and office assistant and younger, more innocent voices for Jonah and Nick. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I find I become so much more immersed in a story when I listen. Walker is a talented writer and I will be curious to see what she pens next.
Man of the Year is both a superb exploration of the many characters' introspective self-analysis and a spellbinding plot, but it is also much wordier than needed. There is copious irony, woven with a gossamer touch, but to a profoundly weighty effect. An exceptional debut novel.
Do you want to know a secret? Well, this family is full of them and they get more fabricated and onerous as time goes on. Who's sleeping with who, who's hiding a murder, or is it a suicide? This is a character-driven story told through various perspectives and just when you think you buy into the paranoia of one character, a wrench is thrown in the mix when the story changes by reading the perspective of another character. A debut psychological thriller that plays with your head to the very end! Thank you to Ms. Walker, Gallery Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book with no expectations of a positive review given.
Most of this story is told by Dr. Robert Hart with some chapters told by his wife Elizabeth, son Josh and others. Their accounts of events don't always agree. Who do you believe? Dr Robert Hart was just named Man of the Year, an award his wife said is tied to his financial contributions to charity. He thinks Elizabeth is having an affair with their summer guest Nick, Josh’s roommate, and he does everything he can to get Nick to leave. After an accident Dr Hart tells one little lie after another that only serves to make him look guilty. I can't say I loved this book. I didn’t like any of the characters. This family puts the “dys” in dysfunctional. For heaven’s sake people, talk to each other! But then we wouldn’t have a book if they did. This book was well written and interesting with several great twists, an excellent debut novel. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review it. I look forward to more from this author.
What to say about this book?? If you like psychological thrillers that truly have you 'playing in the attic' then this is a book you will want to climb into. The writing style was interesting although climbing into these characters 'heads was a scary place! A little slow and overly detailed in parts, it moves quickly and covers only a short time period toward the ending. And what an ending..bordering toward the classic Alfred Hitchcock style. These characters have so many facets and have lied to each other and themselves so much, it's a long shot to draw a conclusion. No book report, no spoilers from this peanut gallery. Use your imagination and delve into the conundrum.! Thanks to the author and publishers for an ARC. I received this book as a complimentary copy for an honest opinion. The opinions expressed are my own.
Dr. Robert Hart is Sag Harbor’s Man of the Year. His beautiful wife is Elizabeth and they have a college age son named Jonah. Jonah is Robert’s son from a previous marriage. Nick is Jonah’s friend and is staying in their guest house. Tonight, there is a large party in Robert’s honor with many friends and neighbors attending. Robert seems to be intimidated by Nick and thinks that perhaps he and Elizabeth may be having an affair. Robert needs to be seen as “King of the Household” and gets jealous at any attention that Nick gives Elizabeth. Nick lost his parents when he was young and enjoys being a part of the family. When something very tragic occurs, truths emerge about the relationships of this family. What do I say about this book? Robert is very taken with himself and Elizabeth is a total airhead floating on another planet. Lies flow like water as personalities strive to appear to be perfection. I’m sure a lot of people will find this story mesmerizing, but I found it simply pathetic in so many ways. Just remember that people are not always what they appear to be. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
First, Do No Harm.....right. Recognized as MAN OF THE YEAR Dr. Robert Hart lives the good life, has a hot wife....who flaunts her stuff, a 20 year old son Jonah from his first marriage who is presently staying with them as well as his friend Nick who resides in the guest house. But, MAN OF THE YEAR Dr. Hart is not perfect by any means, nor is his family or any of his friends; not even his office manager. MAN OF THE YEAR is made up of cheaters, liars, blackmailers and jealous suspicious minds that can be deadly. Good debut for Caroline Louise Walker! ***Arc provided by Gallery, Pocket Books via NetGalley in exchange for review***
What happens when the Man of the Year begins to suspect his wife is cheating on him? Dr. Robert Hart has it all. His job is rewarding—both emotionally and financially. Robert’s latest marriage, to Elizabeth, is happy. His son, Jonah, has turned his life around and is once again succeeding in college. He is named Sag Harbor’s Man of the Year. But then Jonah’s struggling college roommate, Nick, takes up residence in Robert’s guest house for the summer. Robert slowly begins to believes his wife and Nick are having an affair. His response begins with insignificant lies that soon spiral out of control. Told in first person by Robert, Jonah and Elizabeth alternately, Man of the Year is an addicting tale. It is an engaging tale of paranoia but just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. If you like domestic psychological thrillers, this is a good example of the genre. 4 stars! Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
By the time I got to the end of this story, I didn't know which way was up! I mean, how in the world did they manage to get themselves into this mess?!?! It was twisted and crazy and sad and I couldn't put it down. Throughout the story, it felt like people were just being thrown in for drama's sake. It was like Kayla and her family, along with Nick and his family/friends, were thrown in for the sake of the Hart's family's chaos, while Johah's mom, was glossed over. All in all I was drawn in by the wealth of lies and the multi-layered consequences that came with them.
Be warned, these are not likable people (for the most part). Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker begins at the tony charity gala honoring Dr. Robert Hart as Sag Harbor's "Man of the year" He is attending with his second wife, son and son's roommate, being fetted by the town in grand style. As the days unfold, Hart's life of luxury and privilege grates on him. His son's friend is invited to stay the summer (against his wishes), his office manager seems to want more and misinterpret his intention, his wife is distracted, and perhaps attracted to the roommate. One lie spins into another, and then a death occurs. Is it a suicide? Who was home at the time? who will, and will not, lie for him? In the end, as I said, he's not a likeable guy. His family is not honest with him, nor is he with them, and you will be left with questions to ponder and what was the actual scenario of that day . . . Good and quick read, twists you won't see coming. Highly recommend.
I stayed up late last night to finish this book for two reasons. One of those reasons, was to finally discover what actually happened. The second reason was to simply get to the end! I found all of the characters lacking in substance. Their priorities and moral compasses were skewed. I could not find one redeeming quality in any one of them. One of the last chapters, where Elizabeth is rambling, yes rambling, was mind numbing. This book is disturbing to me on many levels. On another note, and this may sound pernickety, it’s questionable that an internal medicine practitioner, in Sag Harbor, without any other sources of income, could live the way the Hart’s lived, in today’s day and age of medicine. Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
This is not a typical psychological thriller but more of an exploration of a narcissist's mind and his internal communications. There are a few alternating voices which are never truly fleshed out. This one dragged on for me and ended with an anti-climatic whimper.
The outstanding, suspense novel, Man of the Year, catapults the reader into the dark, paranoid mind of Dr. Robert Hart (Bobby). Caroline Louise Walker writes in a sophisticated style that that lures the reader into the storyline, then adds masterfully developed, devious characters that make this debut novel a pleasure to read. Man of the Year is a slow burn that kept me wondering what the heck I was reading. Be warned there is little to no real action in this book, but something far better and more challenging to achieve, pure suspense. The author gets the reader deep into the inner workings of the mind of the main character, Bobby but also his wife Elizabeth and his son Jonah. The first part of the book told from Bobby’s point of view where Walker uses a series of internal monologs that exposes just what an egotistical, paranoid person he truly is, thus setting him down a path of self-destruction. Bobby’s paranoia has him seeing faults in the people he once loved unconditionally. Walker also gives the reader a glimpse into the minds of Elizabeth and Jonah. We get to know their innermost thoughts, secrets, and of course, the lies and they harbor. When Elizabeth suggests that Nick, Jonah’s best friend, spend the summer with them, this propels Bobby’s mind to imagine situations that may or may not be there. There are multiple twists and turns, lies, and hidden feelings from all the characters that explode into a domestic fray that has the ability to take down the whole family. The one thing that you can expect from this book is that everyone in this book is lying and has a hidden agenda. You will not know whom to believe or whom to trust. So my advice is to trust no one, assume everyone is lying, and expect the unexpected. I was utterly blindsided for most of the book, and the ending was phenomenal. I will be looking forward to reading more from this author. ***I kindly received this galley by way of NetGalley/publisher/author. I was not contacted, asked, or required to leave a review. I received no compensation, financial or otherwise. I have voluntarily read this book, and this review is my honest opinion .***
“Man of the Year “ was a superior mystery/thriller. It is an utterly unpredictable study in paranoia. I loved this book, the characters, the plot and the twists. The ending was shockingly chilling. I read the entire book in one sitting and it held my interest throughout. Great read! I fortunate to receive this novel from Netgalley as an Advance Reader Copy, in exchange for an objective review.
Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker is a recommended character driven psychological thriller. Dr. Robert Hart has just been named Man of the Year in Sag Harbor, but that award may have been premature. His beautiful second wife, Elizabeth, is there to witness his acceptance speech, along with his son, Jonah, and Jonah's friend, Nick. But when Robert notices that Nick may be paying a bit too much attention to Elizabeth, and that she is responding, he is not thrilled when Elizabeth invites Nick to stay in their guest house for the summer. Robert needs to take matters into his own hands and get Nick out. One lie seems to lead to another and before long Robert is trying to cover his tracks. The first part of Man of the Year is told exclusively through Robert's voice, which makes it challenging because the man is not a likeable or compelling character. His paranoia can be over-the-top. After a shocking event, the second part of the novel takes over. At this point other voices add to the narrative and make the totality a more fascinating and intricate web of details and lies. In the end, none of the characters are particularity likeable, but the complicated lies and subtle threats they all undertake certainly will hold your attention. I liked the different voices relating what happened and their own deceits through their point-of-view. This added a nice layer to the story that was desperately needed after so many chapters of Robert's narrative. This would be a good choice for a summer vacation read or an airplane book. It will hold your attention, but you aren't going to cry if you should lose or misplace the book and never finish it. The writing is good enough to take note of Walker as an author to watch. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Gallery Books
Dr. Hart is a distinguished, important man in the Sag Harbor community. As he wins Man of the Year his life begins to fall apart. He sees things that aren’t as they seem, he hears things wrongly, and he acts on all of these things. I started this book expecting a thriller. It was not a fast start and I began to wonder when the story was going to pick up when the story was going to start moving. About 1/3 the way through it picked up. The characters started acting out, the storyline got moving, and I couldn’t stop reading. I liked that the majority of the book is told from Dr. Hart’s point of view. There are a few chapters mixed in told from the other characters that added just the right mix to the book. The ending is interesting. I couldn’t wait to see how it would all come together, I couldn’t wait to see how Dr. Hart and Mrs. Hart would find their happily ever after or if they would find it. I read the last page, closed the book, and thought that the ending wasn’t quite what I expected.
3.5* Dr. Robert Hart has it all. A successful career and a new, young beautiful wife. When his son Jonah comes home he’s accompanied by his strikingly good looking friend Nick. Does the good doctor have any reason for concern? Nonsense, his wife wouldn’t actually cheat on him...would she? I loved being a fly on the wall witnessing the unraveling of the Man of The Year. Caroline Louise Walker writes a crafty thriller filled with delusion, paranoia and lies. None of the characters are very likable...some downright despicable. But for this book it worked perfectly! This is a good solid read, though somewhat predictable but still sure to entertain you. A buddy read with Susanne! Thank you to Jessica Roth at Gallery Books via NetGalley and Caroline Louise Walker for an ARC to read and review.
Book Info Hardcover, 256 pages Expected publication: June 11th 2019 by Gallery Books ISBN 1982100451 (ISBN13: 9781982100452) Other Editions (5)Source:Netgalley EARC Buy book from Amazon B&N BOOK BLURB Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart. Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity. But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth. Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming. My Thoughts All-American-Dream, beautiful home, beautiful wife, comfortable lifestyle hide the darker truth that many people seem to overlook when they see someone whose outer shell does not come close to matching the inner reality. Dr. Robert Hart is a character that may or may not appeal, his wife Elizabeth and son Jonah are also nebulous characters whose main claim to being in his life apparently are to make him look good to his peers in their community. When things start to unravel however, mostly it seems in the good doctors mind, these very family members are at the heart of Bobby’s greatest fears. From the beginning of what begins as an almost innocent bit of unease to the reveal of what really transpired the reader is taken on and up and down journey through what for me was a web woven in the mind of a man whose imaginings are not even close to reality. Not sure which was worse the deception, lies, paranoia or having to follow the story as it flowed through multiple points of view from the different characters involved. I do know by story's end did not like any of the characters much but that dislike did not detract from liking the story itself. [EArc from Netgalley]
This was a different read from what I am used to. The main narrator is Dr. Robert Hart, for the most part of the book, who seems to be very paranoid and is spiraling out of control. Robert is married to the beautiful Elizabeth who he met when they were both married to different people, began an affair and broke up their marriages to be together. Robert has a son in college, Jonah who was basically raised by his ex-wife, but has returned to live with him and step-mother Elizabeth. Jonah's college roommate, Nick, has come to spend the summer in their guesthouse. I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was a really good read, but the characters were all very unlikeable. Lots of events happened that made me think the story was going to go in a certain way, but then it went a different way. This wasn't a thriller per se and I am not quire sure what I would classify it. I did not care for the ending and I felt there were a couple of loose ends that should have been tied up a little more. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this very interesting book.
Dr. Robert Hart wins the title of "Citizen of the Year" in Sag Harbor. His son Jonah, 20, and his wife, Elizabeth, join in the festivities. Also, Jonah's friend, Nick, is there to help celebrate. Robert's "oldest" friend, Raymond Harrison, is there, too - enjoying the levity. We learn that both Robert and Elizabeth cheated on their respective spouses when they got together. A glint tells Rob that maybe they are still in that mode - but it has been a wonderful 10 years, together. As the week goes on, Rob becomes paranoid and insecure when he sees/hears his wife with Nick. He thinks that they are having an affair. So, Robert takes Nick to his medical office and does a physical on him. He draws blood and leaves it there. This all to have AIDS information on Nick and blood for other tests that Robert may want to have run later. On their way back from Robert's office, he is stopped for a speeding ticket. He thinks "Citizen of the Year", right... Elizabeth and Jonah talk Nick into staying for the entire summer - much to Robert's chagrin. Since Jonah and Nick are roommates at college, they can go back, together, in the fall. Robert and his wife go out to dinner, alone, and Elizabeth gets quite drunk. The two of them swim in the pool afterwards. The next day is spent nursing hangovers. Finally, on Monday, they ask Jonah where Nick has been. No one is sure. A day later, a leak in the garage forces Robert to clean his gutters and it is then when Nick is found - dead. Anything after this would spoil the many twists this drama takes - and there are plenty! The reader is not convinced that Nick committed suicide. More and more characters emerge and appear as if they could be involved in the murder. A great read, if not a bit wordy, but it is a suspenseful story! RECOMMEND!!! Many thanks to Simon & Schuster / Gallery Books for a top-notch read!
This is a long labored, kind of “who done it”. I lost interest about half way through. The story line was good, but kept getting lost in the words. I found myself saying “get a move on” and had to make a real effort to finish. Ok read, just not for me.