SCHMIDT STEPS BACK
Published by Knopf March 16, 2012
“Louis Begley continues the saga of Schmidt, a self-described maverick WASP attorney who now heads a foundation established by his magnanimous billionaire Jewish Egyptian friend, Mike Mansour.
“At 78, Schmidt is widowed, vigorous, shrewd yet romantic, with a gargantuan capacity for alcohol, sex, and transatlantic flights. His one sorrow is his contentious relationship with his difficult daughter, Charlotte, whose horrid husband and in-laws are hell-bent on vacuuming up Schmidt’s fortune. His ardor is Alice, the enigmatic French widow of a lawyer Schmidt affectionately mentored, who harbored his own explosive secrets.
“This many-stranded, meticulously detailed, snake-charm-mesmerizing, emotionally tempestuous plot, which has volatile Schmidt schooling himself in a new practice of restraint and patience, depicts the enclave of privilege that is the seat of world power and is strategically pegged to the catastrophes of the last two decades, from the AIDS epidemic to the Oklahoma bombing, 9/11, and ever-worsening economic and political crises. Begley’s seductive, subversive, and commanding novel of wealth, manners, desire, and retribution, with its many sly allusions and contrasting pragmatism (money for sex) and radiance (Schmidt’s love and largesse for his former mistress and her new family), reminds us that the elite are not immune from pain and tragedy. They just suffer in fancier houses and drink better gin.
“Begley’s dry-martini wit, peerless eye for social mores, and delectably complex hero Schmidt have a following, which will increase with this superb tragicomedy.”
-Donna Seaman, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
Lena Khidritskaya | 212-572-2103 | firstname.lastname@example.org