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Adam the King

Overview

The wedding of billionaire Adam Bloch and Maisie Maclaren is the event of the year in Clement's Cove, Maine–a town in which the mansion-like "cottages" of the summering elite sit side-by-side with the modest homes of working-class locals. Adam, a shy, tentative man with a terrible tragedy in his past, has, at fifty-four, reached the moment in his life when he feels he is finally ready to live–and yet he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. When Maisie asks for a lap pool so she can strengthen her body, ...
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Overview

The wedding of billionaire Adam Bloch and Maisie Maclaren is the event of the year in Clement's Cove, Maine–a town in which the mansion-like "cottages" of the summering elite sit side-by-side with the modest homes of working-class locals. Adam, a shy, tentative man with a terrible tragedy in his past, has, at fifty-four, reached the moment in his life when he feels he is finally ready to live–and yet he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. When Maisie asks for a lap pool so she can strengthen her body, debilitated by years of Hodgkin's disease, Adam approaches his neighbor with a generous offer to buy the plot of land on which her trailer sits to make room for the pool. She refuses, and a chain of events is set in motion that pits Adam against his neighbors, the new rich against those scraping by, outsider against old-timer, in an escalating struggle that can only end in catastrophe.

Taut, swift, and startling, Adam the King depicts the inexorability of fate against the backdrop of the money-mad '90s, the emptiness of raging ambition and the fallout of the drift toward conservative politics and values.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Library Journal

“[Lewis’s] marvelous ear for idiomatic speech is revealed as much through narration as in dialog. . . . Ultimately, public libraries should have the entire quartet in their collections.”

Los Angeles Times

“Lewis catches the thrill of proximity to America’s eastern WASP aristocracy to an uncomfortable degree: their studied vagueness, their heartiness, the aloofness that cannot be copied.”


The Plain Dealer

“ . . . an insightful and even beautiful writer . . .”

Portland Press Herald

“ . . . a writer with consummate skill . . . ”

Ron Charles
Lewis is a master of the subtle interplay of coincidence and character, the light tripping of events that lead to a disaster that seems at once inevitable and yet shocking. And he chronicles Adam's burdened spirit with such insight that you can't help but be moved no matter what your tax bracket. He also has a good ear for the patter at the general store, the background commentary that helps us understand the history of these Mainers and their conflicted attitude about the gilded newcomers who have revived and altered the local economy so dramatically. He doesn't condescend to the locals' homespun banter or romanticize their flinty wisdom.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Lewis's gripping fourth novel (after Theme Song for an Old Show) traces one man's heroic but flawed attempt to make good of past mistakes. In the summer town of Clement Cove, Maine, billionaire Adam Bloch, now in his 50s, returns to build an outsized mansion with his new wife, Maisie Maclaren, a prominent local family's divorced daughter. Bloch still smolders from the shame of having been involved decades ago in the car accident that killed Maisie's sister, Sascha-an event not forgotten or quite forgiven by the locals, among whom is the narrator, an interested observer. While Bloch adores Maisie and hopes his new marriage will provide "the antidote to tragedy," Maisie's feelings for Bloch seem lukewarm, and her desire for a pool at the mansion pits them against longtime resident Verna Hubbard, who doesn't want to sell her adjoining spit of land and trailer to Bloch. Lewis juxtaposes the opinions of the locals at the general store as a kind of Greek chorus while the struggle between rich and poor plays out. The narrative is tense, and Lewis's well-meaning, blinkered hero is a marvelous creation. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Disasters bookend this slim story, the last in a quartet of loosely linked novels (Meritocracy, 2004, etc.) from TV and movie scriptwriter Lewis. The setting is coastal Maine. The small community of Clement's Cove is made up of year-rounders and summer people from "away." The year-rounders, like Thomas Hardy's rustics, gather in the general store to comment on the action, which begins with a fabulous wedding paid for by the groom, Adam Bloch, a Jew among the WASPs. Back in 1966, Adam was the driver in an accident that killed a beautiful young woman, Sascha Maclaren; he hasn't felt human since, though he has gone on to amass an extraordinary fortune. Blind chance tugs Lewis's characters this way and that, and a happenstance meeting in Manhattan between the lonely bachelor billionaire and Sascha's beautiful sister Maisie leads to their marriage (both are now in their 50s). The story revolves round two couples: Diffident Adam and capricious Maisie, and the year-rounders Verna, who cleans houses, and her shiftless boyfriend Roy, who doesn't do much of anything. Adam has built a magnificent house for his bride and her two little girls (Chinese, adopted). Maisie needs a lap pool. Verna possesses the last piece of soft ground in this rocky terrain, ideal for Maisie's pool; but Verna won't sell. Resisting the conventional story line (new money rides roughshod over the old timers), Lewis has Adam, the good neighbor, back off; but his perfect manners are no match for life's vicissitudes, and in a second disaster, the house burns to the ground. We learn this at the outset, but Lewis cunningly conceals the circumstances, to provide a gripping climax. In between he looks glancingly at the trickinessof relationships, the attachment to ancestral land and the unfair distribution of guilt. He does justice to both social groups, and he is helped immeasurably by a pitch-perfect ear. Quirky, rueful and wise.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590512845
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/20/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,260,614
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Lewis

Jeffrey Lewis won two Emmys and many other honors as a writer and producer of Hill Street Blues. His "Meritocracy Quartet" is intended to chart the progress of a generation. The first book of the quartet, Meritocracy: A Love Story, won both the Independent Publishers Book Award for General Fiction and the ForeWord Book of the Year Silver Award for Fiction. He lives in Los Angeles and Castine, Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

Adam the King


By Jeffrey Lewis

Other Press

Copyright © 2008 Jeffrey Lewis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781590512845

Adam and Maisie had the wedding of the the year that year in Clement’s Cove. And they were no longer young. He was in his fifties and never been married. She’d been married once, for about twenty minutes to a Navajo chief outside Taos and later she adopted two little Chinese girls, but mostly she had lived alone. They invited everybody as if it were once in a lifetime. Their families that hardly knew each other and probably never would, old friends, newer friends, an ecumenical crowd, those who got rich and those who didn’t, those who invented something and those who played along, government guys, research guys, investment guys, TV guys, a few artists, a couple writers, doctors and lawyers and wives, ex-hippies who started country businesses and those whose best days were thirty years behind them. The meritocracy in all its multiform display. And they invited everyone in Clement’s Cove, too. All the year-rounders, Jeffrey Lewis the people who weren’t from away. A big tent, as the politicians used to say. And it was a very big tent. They had to clear trees to fit it on the land, a tent of Camelot or the Thousand and One Nights.

Continues...

Excerpted from Adam the King by Jeffrey Lewis Copyright © 2008 by Jeffrey Lewis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The author has suggested that Adam the King is a tragedy in novel form. What aspects of classical tragedy are present in the form and story of the book?

2. To what extent does Adam the King suggest the zeigeist of the 90's, the Clinton years?

3. Should Adam have married Maisie?

4. Should Maisie have married Adam?

5. What does the chorus of village people add to the book?

6. People's relationship to land seems to be an important theme of the book. What does the land find out about each of the main characters?

7. Adam as end-of-the-century assimilated Jew. Is it key to the book, or only incidental?

8. Adam, despite his money, despite his guilty past, aspires to "normality." Is there anything "normal" about this? Is "normality" feasible for a man like him? Does "normality" mean anything, finally, or is it simply a telling of Adam's dream?

9. How would you describe the feelings that Verna and Roy have for each other?

10. What does her daddy's boat mean to Verna? To Roy? To each about the other? To Adam Bloch?

11. Is the book too hard on any of its characters?

12. Adam the King is the culmination of Jeffrey Lewis's Meritocracy Quartet. If you have read the other books, does it seem a fitting conclusion? If you have not, do you feel you've missed anything?

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