Domestic Pleasures

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After her ex-husband dies in a plane crash, Martha Gaver is horrified to learn that the executor of Raymond's estate is Charlie, the conservative, insufferable lawyer who represented Raymond in their bitter divorce. Yet soon after they reenter each other's lives, Martha, Charlie, and their teenage children find they have more in common than they imagined as they struggle to rebuild their lives...and that opposites really do attract.

Engaging,, witty, and entertaining, Domestic ...

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After her ex-husband dies in a plane crash, Martha Gaver is horrified to learn that the executor of Raymond's estate is Charlie, the conservative, insufferable lawyer who represented Raymond in their bitter divorce. Yet soon after they reenter each other's lives, Martha, Charlie, and their teenage children find they have more in common than they imagined as they struggle to rebuild their lives...and that opposites really do attract.

Engaging,, witty, and entertaining, Domestic Pleasures is a touching, piercing tale of love lost, found, and embraced once again.

A story for today's generation from the bestselling author of The New Girls and Still Missing. After her ex-husband dies in a plane crash, Martha is horrified to learn that the executor of Raymond's estate is Charlie--the lawyer who represented him in their bitter divorce. But soon she discovers that a clash of lifestyles can be the spark of life. Movie rights optioned by Sally Field.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If Rosamunde Pilcher lived in 1980s Manhattan, she might come up with a romantic novel like this one. A large cast of characters is involved in various sorts of relationships; at the center are illustrator Martha Forbes and lawyer Charlie Leveque. Following the death of her ex-husband, Raymond, in a plane crash, Martha is dismayed to learn that Charlie, the lawyer who handled Raymond's hostile divorce proceedings, is now in charge of the estate. Although the two have little in common--except broken marriages and one teenager apiece--they're forced to work together. Gradually, the superficial barriers between them fall and they find themselves in love--and beset by other problems. Gutcheon's gift for witty dialogue and her canny observations propel the generously proportioned story. A particular strength is her sharp depiction of the teens and their relationship. Gutcheon ( Still Missing ) perfectly captures the milieu of upper-middle-class Manhattan, and the result is a vivid, entertaining novel. BOMC alternate; first serial to Ladies' Home Journal; movie rights to Pathe. (June)
Library Journal
Domestic Pleasures is a tender, heartwarming story of love and life in the Nineties. When Martha Gaver's ex-husband is killed suddenly in a plane crash she is forced into contact with his divorce lawyer--now the executor of his estate. Both are single parents struggling to raise teenagers and manage a life after divorce. They discover in each other differences that bring insight to their own struggles. Gutcheon, author of Still Missing ( LJ 6/ 15/81) and The New Girls ( LJ 10/1/79), reaches inside her characters and brings them to life. She manages to put us in the hearts and minds of not just the adults but the teenagers as well. This is an intricate weaving of several stories with many characters, but Gutcheon makes us care about them all. A wonderful portrayal of marriage, divorce, and relationships, realistic yet optimistic and touching. This has been optioned for a film with Sally Field. Highly recommended. BOMC alternate.-- Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. at Indianapolis Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060934767
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Edition description: First Perennial Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 974,970
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy-Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.


Beth Gutcheon is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage, and Goodbye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.

Good To Know

Gutcheon shared some fun and fascinating anecdotes in our interview:

"When my second novel was in manuscript, a subsidiary rights guy at my publisher secretly sent a copy of it to a friend who was working in Hollywood with the producer Stanley Jaffe, who had made Goodbye Columbus, The Bad News Bears, and Kramer v. Kramer, run Paramount Pictures before he was 30, and met the queen of England. My agent had an auction set up for the film rights of Still Missing for the following Friday, with some very heavy-hitter producers and such, which was exciting enough. Two days before the auction, Stanley Jaffe walked into my agent's office in New York and said, ‘I want to make a pre-emptive bid for Beth Gutcheon's novel.'

‘But you haven't read it,' says Wendy.

‘Nevertheless,' says Stanley.

‘Well, I have this auction set up. You're going to have to pay a lot to have me call it off,' says Wendy.

‘I understand that,' says Stanley.

Wendy named a number.

Stanley said, ‘Done,' or words to that effect.

To this day, remembering Wendy's next phone call to me causes me something resembling a heart attack.

When, several weeks later, Stanley called and asked me if I had an interest in writing the screenplay of the movie that became Without a Trace, I said, ‘No.'

He quite rightly hung up on me.

I then spent twenty minutes in a quiet room wondering what I had done. A man with a shelf full of Oscars, on cozy terms with Lizzie Windsor, had just offered me film school for one, all expenses paid by Twentieth Century Fox. He knew I didn't know how to write screenplays. He wasn't offering to hire me because he wanted to see me fail. Who cares that all I ever wanted to see on my tombstone was ‘She Wrote a Good Book?' The chance to learn something new that was both hard and really interesting was not resistible. I spent the rest of the weekend tracking him from airport to airport until I could get him back on the phone. (This was before we all had cell phones.)

I was sitting in my bleak office on a wet gray day, on which my newly teenaged son had shaved his head and I had just realized I'd lost my American Express card, when the phone rang. ‘Is this Beth Gutcheon?' asked a voice that made my hair stand on end. I said it was. ‘This is Paul Newman,' said the voice.

It was, too. The fine Italian hand of Stanley Jaffe again, he'd recommended me to work on a script Paul was developing. Paul invited me to dinner to talk about it. My son said, ‘For heaven's sake, Mother, don't be early and don't be tall.' I was both. We did end up writing a script together; it was eventually made for television with Christine Lahti, and fabulous Terry O'Quinn in the Paul Newman part, called The Good Fight."

"I read all the time. My husband claims I take baths instead of showers because I can't figure out how to read in the shower, and he's right."

"I started buying poetry for the first time since college after 9/11, but wasn't reading it until a friend mentioned that she and her husband read poetry in the morning before they have breakfast. She is right -- a pot of tea and a quiet table in morning sunlight is exactly the right time for poetry. I read The New York Times Book Review in the bath and on subways because it is light and foldable. I listen to audiobooks through earphones while I take my constitutionals or do housework. I read physical books for a couple of hours every night after everyone else is in bed -- usually two books alternately, one novel and one biography or book of letters."

"I have a dog named Daisy Buchanan. She ran for president last fall; her slogan was ‘No Wavering, No Flip-flopping, No pants.' She doesn't know yet that she didn't win, so if you meet her, please don't tell her."

"Last little-known fact: When I was in high school I invented, by knitting one, a double-wide sweater with two turtlenecks for my brother and his girlfriend. It was called a Tweter and was even manufactured in college colors for a year or two. There was a double-paged color spread in Life magazine of models wearing Tweters and posing with the Jets football team. My proudest moment was the Charles Addams cartoon that ran in The New Yorker that year. It showed a Tweter in a store window, while outside, gazing at it in wonder, was a man with two heads."

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The last thing Raymond Gaver expected was that he would die with a key to the Beverly Hills Hotel in his pocket.

He was from New York. He didn't even like Southern California. And he hardly ever stayed at that hotel.

He expected to nail down the financing he needed before lunch, and that happened. He expected he could get to the airport in forty-five minutes, and he had. He expected the flight to be half-full, and it was. What he did not expect was that it would explode in midair halfway to San Francisco, nor that his body would lie in pieces, among the wreckage of the plane and of the other passengers, for more than a day in the silence of the Santa Cruz Mountains while rescuers tried to reach the crash site.

Sherry Zagar was vetting the Gaver-Zagar American Express bill when the phone rang. (You'd think with a specialty in tax law that Raymond could figure out for himself why it made her weary to find charges for his dates' pedicures and hair tinting larded into his hotel bills.) "Good morning. Gaver-Zagar." "Good morning....Excuse me. Who have I reached?" "Gaver-Zagar Partnership. This is Sherry Zagar, can I help you?"

"Is this the office of Raymond Charles Gaver?"

"Who is calling please?" And what fresh hell is this, said Dorothy Parker. Christ! Raymond Charles Gaver?

Pause. "My name is Frieda Mailman."

Oh. Who? "I'm sorry, Mr. Gaver is in California this week. Perhaps if you told me what this regards, I could help you."

Another pause."Um, I'm trying to reach his next of kin."

Oh. Insurance. "Well that would be his son, Jack, who is probably in algebra class at the moment."

"Oh." Pause. "How old is Jack?"

"Sixteen. Are you sure I can't help you?"

"I need to reach Mr. Gaver's family."


"I'm afraid Mr. Gaver has been killed."

"What! By who?"

Sherry realized many hours later that this was an interesting response. She had seen a flashed image of a gun fired in a hotel room. A skull-crunching punch. A pair of hands around a jugular. The woman from the airline, whose name Sherry had already forgotten, replaced this with the true image, the one Sherry would have to live with for the rest of her life, of a man she had once loved, dying in fear and then lying in pieces on the side of a mountain he'd never heard of and never would.

For a while after she hung up, Sherry looked around the office as if she'd never seen it before, and tried to keep breathing. She was in shock. How many times in her life had she said "I'm in shock," when what she meant was, "I am crammed with outraged opinion and eager to jam a million words about it down your throat." Now she couldn't say anything. She just looked out the open door of the office to the reception desk and kept puzzling over the nearly empty jug of the office water cooler. Had the faucet handle on the cooler always been blue? She felt surrounded by a great colorless void, into which would occur spikes of thought, as if injected by syringe. Mostly random and amazingly off the point. She became aware that she was shaking her head in an odd way, as a dog does when it has an earache. And thinks there must be some mistake.

That kelim on the walls was Raymond's. From his den at home. The one time Sherry had been to their house (this was before Martha realized Raymond was sleeping with Sherry) she'd admired the rough masculine comfort of Raymond's den, as Martha had arranged it for him. it had kelims and an old leather sofa and a camel saddle from somewhere. And loads of plants. Sherry remembered the little boy, Jack, coming in in his pajamas to say goodnight. Jack was carrying an ancient stuffed beast, allegedly an elephant, that had once been his father's. He'd been sweet and warm and shiny from his bath.

On his own, Raymond was not so adept at creating comfort or effect. Sherry looked at the partners' desk Raymond had bought himself in London. Too good for this office, with a dingy expanse of West Fifty-sixth Street out the window. An antique partners' desk beside bunged-up file cabinets and an overflowing metal wastebasket. Raymond didn't take any meetings here. When he was romancing a backer he did it at breakfast at the Mayfair Regent. He used to take rolls of gorgeous architectural renderings with him. Well, he wouldn't do that anymore. Or sit at that desk.

Jesus. Raymond? What did she do now? What about the new hotel) What about his mother in Florida? What about his secretary? Could Sherry keep the business afloat at all? What about his tickets for Miss Saigon next week?

What about the early mornings here alone when they would drink coffee that tasted of cardboard from the Greek deli downstairs, and laugh about where life had brought them and where they meant to go? How, in the middle of your life, do you replace -- get along without -- a relationship of fifteen years, with someone you've loved and slept with and grown to hate and forgiven and trusted and been betrayed by and forgiven?

God, maybe it would be a relief.

Sherry hadn't spoken to Raymond's ex-wife in fourteen years. She could hardly call her now. But who was going to tell the boy?

"It looks like a slam-dunk to me. They had a document in the file saying they couldn't honor checks for over five hundred dollars without a countersignature. The bank has to return the money. Period, full stop."

Charlie Leveque was in his partner Albert's office when his secretary buzzed.

Domestic Pleasures. Copyright © by Beth Gutcheon. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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