Christina Connelly, a reserved to the point of chilly Irish Catholic ten year widow with a small decorating business and a daughter, Jordan, devoted to ballet and undereating, meets the brash, arrogant, recently widowed ob-gyn, Andy Stein, at a wedding in Great Neck. (I attended that wedding via Mc Donnough’s last book, A Wedding in Great Neck). Along with Andy is his lost, pot-smoking son, Oliver, who, as a result of his father’s long hours and self-absorption, has been left parentless by the death of his mother.
Christina, eager for new clients, especially Upper East Side Manhattanites, agrees to decorate Andy’s apartment, and to her surprise, they fall in love. Now the real challenges begin. Jordan can’t stand Andy nor his son. And Andy’s mother, Ida, a Holocaust survivor, is faced with the slap-in-the-face of her son possibly marrying a non-Jew.
The plot is beautifully woven, everything prepared for. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but watch out for lobsters, a cat, and rabbits.
Such a clash of generations and sensibilities! How can Ida accept Christina? How can Jordan, who is used to being alone with her mother, possibly share a life with people she detests? Christina, haunted by her alcoholic father’s outbursts, is terrified to begin a life with Andy who shoots his mouth off and can’t relate to his son. How can Andy sit back and watch Christina be blind to Jordan’s eating disorder? And how can a man who had to study his way out of the slums into a posh, prestigious life understand the lack of hunger in Oliver who is given everything except attention?
I love fiction that teaches me something. In Two of a Kind, you learn the behind the scenes of difficult conceptions, pregnancies, and births. You learn about ballet, and feel the adrenaline rush of Christina on her hunt for vintage clothes, linens, silver and glassware, paintings. A Baccarat glass anyone? Now that I know what one is, I may go on the prowl for a set.
You’ll find yourself LOL-ing and getting misty-eyed within pages. Each character, even the minor ones, is so real that they will keep you company. Two of a Kind is really one of a kind–delightful!
New American Library, 2013