It took me until the very last days of the season to discover the book that was my favorite read of the summer, and among my favorite reads of the year so far: The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine. It tells the stories of a group of residents living on a nondescript block on New York's Upper West Side whose lives intersect because of the dogs they own. In a Q&A with the author in the back of the edition I had, Schine cites Trollope as a favorite writer. It's easy to see his influence in the way that Schine manages to turn the Big Apple into a small country village by focusing on the daily, small-scale intricacies of a microcosm within the city.
The New Yorkers is the kind of book that had me anxious to race through it yet wanting to pace myself so that I wouldn't come to the end too soon, and it left me thinking about its characters even when I wasn't reading it. As a novel, I think it has an obvious appeal for many: dog lovers, city-dwellers, and fans of You've Got Mail, since it's easy to imagine Joe Fox walking Brinkley somewhere on the periphery of its pages. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that it would appeal to Barbara Pym fans, since its structure and tone are some of the most Pym-like that I've come across in contemporary fiction. A bold statement, I know, but the small daily hopes and tragedies of its characters make The New Yorkers worthy of the comparison. The end of the novel feels a bit too perfectly tied up, but that's a very, very minor flaw in an otherwise lovely book.