The Smart One

The Smart One

A Novel

Book - 2013
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With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses (An "irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel" -- Marie Claire ), Jennifer Close captured friendship in those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. Now, with her sparkling new novel of parenthood and sibling rivalry, Close turns her gimlet eye to the only thing messier than friendship: family.

Weezy Coffey's parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. "Maureen will marry well," their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose--thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.

But now that Weezy's own children are adults, they haven't exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy's middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment--leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.

As the Coffey children's various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, c2013
ISBN: 9780307596864
Branch Call Number: CLOSE
Characteristics: 339 p


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May 29, 2017

I loved this book. It is definitely not an action or plot driven story. It is more in the line of a study of characters and how they deal with the ups and downs of real life. Life is made of little moments, so is this book. The writing of Jennifer Close is superb. Her sense of observation is rare, especially for such a young writer. I found myself smiling a lot and at times laughing out loud because I could relate to the comments. To me, the style of writing is more important that the plot, so I reveled in this book. If you are looking for drama and action, this is not for you. If you are looking for fine writing and identification with life's little moments, enjoy!

cgloden Oct 25, 2013

I thought that this book was really boring. It jumped all over the place and had a really weird ending.

Aug 14, 2013

Family relationships under the microscope, minutely observed. Fans of Ann Tyler (as in "Digging to America"), will recognize the dry, acerbic, measured style and clever dialogue. However, I became impatient for something to happen about halfway through. Some of the characters did not quite come off for me. One of the sisters in particular, Martha, remained a puzzle. All the Coffey family female characters were described as "smart," yet behaved like they had bubbles for brains. I'd say this book is definitely a cut above chick lit, although nearly as forgettable.

Aug 07, 2013

I loved this book. I've been a little homesick for the East coast and the NY/Philly setting and boisterous crazy family in this book reminded me of my own.

Fast read - perfect for sitting in the sun.

ksoles Jul 04, 2013

Jennifer Close's new novel depicts a trio of grown offspring who return to the nest: Martha, a lapsed nurse who manages a J. Crew store, resents her therapist and gets dumped by her real-estate agent; Claire, who, after breaking up with her fiancé, lives in her New York apartment until her bank account dries up; and Max, the charming college senior who has a gorgeous girlfriend and a bright future until he gets his girlfriend pregnant.

Meanwhile, Weezy, the well-meaning but neurotic matriarch, shoulders the blame for the shortcomings of her children, all of whom now reside under her roof along with her oblivious husband, Will. It becomes obvious that Weezy cared for her children too well; they have grown into clueless adults incapable of hunting for real estate, paying bills and cleaning up after themselves.

"The Smart One" provides a light, entertaining summer read. Close displays her talent with spare but satisfying prose and unflinchingly describes her characters with a sense of immediacy. These characters neither undergo spectacular redemption nor do they emerge as heroes. But, eventually, they do eventually manage to embrace their true selves and find some happiness in the process. What else can a mother hope for?

sablegirl Jun 11, 2013

I love this book and enjoyed reading about the different disfunctional relationships each child had with one another and parents. I should say "enjoyed" but was amused by some of the exploits. I recommend this book.

Feb 22, 2013

I loved this book. The narrative switches between different members of the family: Claire and Marta (sisters); Weezy (the mother), Cleo (girlfriend of the brother). The writing is pretty funny - some of the moments were especially hilarious as I could imagine my mom or sister doing that exact thing. This is the best book I have read so far this year.

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