Wise Men

( 13 )

Overview

"An absorbing, well-crafted book, with all the storytelling virtues on display. It is atmospheric, thoughtful, and mature, with characters whose fate arouses genuine curiosity. It is fiction of great integrity and vast promise."?Hilary Mantel

Hilly Wise is the son of one of the wealthiest and most powerful lawyers in the United States. When Hilly meets Savannah, a young black girl, on the beach at Cape Cod during the summer of 1952, his affection for her collides with his ...

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Wise Men: A Novel

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Overview

"An absorbing, well-crafted book, with all the storytelling virtues on display. It is atmospheric, thoughtful, and mature, with characters whose fate arouses genuine curiosity. It is fiction of great integrity and vast promise."—Hilary Mantel

Hilly Wise is the son of one of the wealthiest and most powerful lawyers in the United States. When Hilly meets Savannah, a young black girl, on the beach at Cape Cod during the summer of 1952, his affection for her collides with his father's secrets. The result shatters his family, and hers.

Years later, Hilly sets out to find Savannah and to right the wrongs he helped set in motion. But can his sense of guilt, and his good intentions, overcome the forces of history, family, and identity? A multi-generational story about love and regret, the evolving struggle for racial dignity, and the crushing weight of familial obligation, WISE MEN confirms that Stuart Nadler is one of the most exciting young writers at work today.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

With one lucky class-action suit, ambulance-chaser Arthur Wise becomes a millionaire. That sudden ascendancy does not, however, bring cleansing transformation. In fact, Wise remains the vengeful racist that he always was and his relations with his 17-year-old son Hilly actually grow worse in the aftermath the big payoff. When his father's mistreatment of a live-in black servant at their new home escalates into an arrest, Hilly's own infatuation with the caretaker's niece is effectively doomed. Rendered in the son's words at different stages of his life, Wise Men artfully shows how the intricacies of human interactions play out over time. ...and don't forget the third pick: Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, a Discover selection.

Megan Mayhew Bergman
"Wise Men reads like a classic; it is a completely engrossing novel, one that scars the reader's heart in the most satisfying way. In confident, unpretentious prose, Nadler tackles the complexity of racial tension and fifties mores in a manner reminiscent of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, and in a smart, misses-nothing style that summons comparisons to Salinger and Cheever. Hilton Wise is a winsome and compelling narrator, one you'll find yourself rooting for days after finishing the book. Nadler's deft rendering of place, namely a secluded compound in coastal Massachusetts, allows the reader to become completely lost in Hilly's world. Wise Men is, at its core, a brutal love story, full of surprise and conviction, insight and deception, staggering wealth and loss, truth and beauty."
Amber Dermont
"Wise Men is a brilliantly plotted and carefully observed novel that takes the reader deep inside a powerful family's most guarded secrets. An epic saga about a son's need to atone for the sins of his father and the sins of his own troubled youth. The driving heart of this ambitious novel is an impossible romance: one worth risking an entire outrageous fortune. With wisdom and compassion, Nadler examines the mysteries and manners of unrequited love. Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is a writer of abundant talent and grace."
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
"Stuart Nadler is an elegant writer and a compelling storyteller. Wise Men explores the big questions in life---love and money and race and identity---in a story packed with secrets, longings, and obsessions. It is not a book to be missed."
Emma Straub
"Stuart Nadler's first novel zooms and dips like an airplane with a trick pilot, one in complete control of his loop-de-loops. I have no doubt that Stuart Nadler is going to be one of our great novelists, and it all starts here, on a dune in Cape Cod, with the Wise men. These characters-knotted together with obligation, guilt, and love-will stay with me always."
Stewart O'Nan
"While Stuart Nadler's ambitious debut novel touches on money, class, race and religion, first and foremost Wise Men is about youth, betrayal and regret. In his idealism and denial, Hilly Wise, the poor little rich boy, is a truly American character, and the perfect narrator for the tale."
Emma Donoghue
PRAISE FOR WISE MEN:

"A tense, evocative, page-turning saga of the bruising encounters between two families across the 'colour line' over half a century. Every conversation rings painfully, beautifully true."

Boston Globe
"Genuinely moving."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR WISE MEN:

"A tense, evocative, page-turning saga of the bruising encounters between two families across the 'colour line' over half a century. Every conversation rings painfully, beautifully true."—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"Wise Men reads like a classic; it is a completely engrossing novel, one that scars the reader's heart in the most satisfying way. In confident, unpretentious prose, Nadler tackles the complexity of racial tension and fifties mores in a manner reminiscent of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, and in a smart, misses-nothing style that summons comparisons to Salinger and Cheever. Hilton Wise is a winsome and compelling narrator, one you'll find yourself rooting for days after finishing the book. Nadler's deft rendering of place, namely a secluded compound in coastal Massachusetts, allows the reader to become completely lost in Hilly's world. Wise Men is, at its core, a brutal love story, full of surprise and conviction, insight and deception, staggering wealth and loss, truth and beauty."—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of BIRDS OF A LESSER PARADISE

"Stuart Nadler's first novel zooms and dips like an airplane with a trick pilot, one in complete control of his loop-de-loops. I have no doubt that Stuart Nadler is going to be one of our great novelists, and it all starts here, on a dune in Cape Cod, with the Wise men. These characters-knotted together with obligation, guilt, and love-will stay with me always."—Emma Straub, author of OTHER PEOPLE WE MARRIED and LAURA LAMONT'S LIFE IN PICTURES

"Wise Men is a brilliantly plotted and carefully observed novel that takes the reader deep inside a powerful family's most guarded secrets. An epic saga about a son's need to atone for the sins of his father and the sins of his own troubled youth. The driving heart of this ambitious novel is an impossible romance: one worth risking an entire outrageous fortune. With wisdom and compassion, Nadler examines the mysteries and manners of unrequited love. Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is a writer of abundant talent and grace."—Amber Dermont, author of the New York Times bestseller The Starboard Sea

"Stuart Nadler is an elegant writer and a compelling storyteller. Wise Men explores the big questions in life—-love and money and race and identity—-in a story packed with secrets, longings, and obsessions. It is not a book to be missed."—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of the New York Times bestseller The Language of Flowers

"While Stuart Nadler's ambitious debut novel touches on money, class, race and religion, first and foremost Wise Men is about youth, betrayal and regret. In his idealism and denial, Hilly Wise, the poor little rich boy, is a truly American character, and the perfect narrator for the tale."—Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Odds

"Genuinely moving."—Boston Globe

Library Journal
This debut novel from the author of the well-received story collection The Book of Life has much to recommend it. The year is 1947, and a Boston Airways plane crash is about to change Hilton Wise's teenage life forever. Hilton's father is an ambulance-chasing attorney who represents the victims of this disaster, and winning this highly publicized case makes him instantly wealthy and famous. Unfortunately, this turn of events proves to be catastrophic for Hilton. The novel is perhaps most essentially a tragic love story, skillfully examining the complications of Hilton's impossible relationship with Savannah, a poor young African American woman he meets at his family's new beachfront property on Cape Cod. Hilton, the narrator of the novel, is exceptionally well drawn, and Nadler insightfully explores the dangerous power of class and privilege, which dooms this young love affair. VERDICT A novel of considerable power and pathos that lovers of literary fiction will want. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/12.]—Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., Canterbury, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316126496
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 568,049
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Nadler is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. Recently, he was the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic. He is the author of the story collection The Book of Life.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(2)

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 19, 2013

    This book took me quite a while to finish, but I don't think tha

    This book took me quite a while to finish, but I don't think that's to its discredit. It's not a page-turner, but once you finish it stays with you (the ending is a kicker!). Its a thoughtful book, and a carefully written one. I've described it to friends as what To Kill a Mockingbird would be if Atticus was a jerk instead of a hero.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Boring

    Kept waiting for there to be a purpose to the story and was completely disappointed. Ridiculous how he follows one person around all his life and for what reason. Main character was very boring.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    I checked out this book from the library after reading the many

    I checked out this book from the library after reading the many favorable reviews from well established authors and newspapers. I could spend the next hour writing about how utterly disappointed I am in this book but instead I'll try to sum in up a few paragraphs. 

    "Wise Men"  takes place over a fifty-plus year period and weakly studies the race relations between a Nouvea Riche family and their black caretaker's family. Hilly, the narrator of the book is at odds with his racist Jewish father (Arthur) as to how he has acquired their newfound wealth as well as how Arthur treats their caretaker, Lem. The cliches begin with Hilly falling for Lem's lovely sixteen-year-old niece, Savannah. Now this is in Cape Cod in 1952 and all is forbidden. Despite Hilly trying to prove to everyone that he is not like his father, he causes a series of events to unfold that sets into motion tragedy for the African-American family. But since Hilly really is "a good guy" -the writer tries hard to sell us on this-he decides to leave his life of privilege and after college slums for a newspaper, writing about race-relations. Hilly, who has never gotten over Savannah, finally tracks her down and of course more tragedy ensues. I found this part of the plot to be completely unbelievable since Hilly never took responsibility for the the tragedy he caused in his youth.  Savannah not holding any kind of grudge upon seeing Hilly for the first time in twenty years, acts like his is just a long-lost friend who reconnected with her via Facebook. Of course their lives are complicated because they both have life partners, but that doesn't stop Hilly from hoping until he is forced to return to the wealth he abandoned when he and his parents learn that his long-suffering girlfriend, Jenny is pregnant. Of course Hilly decides to use his family wealth and become a philanthropist, helping many people throughout his life and raising a family with Jenny. 

    This book is far from the love story it is being billed as. There are so many plot holes and such poor character development that I can't believe it ever got the green light to be published. The plot is preposterous and simply too silly to be believable. The characters feel like caricatures from "Mandingo", "Gone with the Wind" and "Driving Miss Daisy." I won't be reading any of Mr. Nadler's future novels. His debut novel was a telltale sign of the lack of new talent in the publishing world but who still manage to get published for reasons that are beyond me.

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    The majority of the story is about Hilly Wise, the son of obnoxi

    The majority of the story is about Hilly Wise, the son of obnoxious nouveau riche Jewish attorney, Arthur Wise. Hilly has a near-stalking obsession with Savannah, a poor local black girl he knew briefly when they were teenagers. His odyssey of trying to contact her through the convening years is two-fold. He wants to rekindle what he perceives as a love interest between them, of which she seems to be indifferent, but also because he feels responsible for sending Savannah's Uncle Lem, Arthur Wise's handyman, to prison for stealing some papers from Arthur's briefcase. These papers play a part in a big family secret that is revealed on the last page of which, I might add, I just assumed during the course of reading the book. The stories I really enjoy are ones that leave me satisfied as I close the book for the last time. Satisfied in that, I'm glad I took the time to read it and also a feeling of sadness that the story is over. I never got that with this book.

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    I,too kept waiting for this book to get better. The father is no

    I,too kept waiting for this book to get better. The father is not just flawed he's a dyed in the wool bigot who NEVER changes. At the beginning he's just a so so lawyer who "gets lucky" [if you can call it that] By the end the author makes him out to be a genius.
    I would NOT call this a family saga...not enough detail about any of the other female characters except Savanna. The main lead is Hilly who hates his Dad's money [and how it was made] but takes it in the end and gives some away through philanthropy.
    I don't have to believe all the books I read but this one didn't even come close. Save your $$$$$$

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  • Posted March 23, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I adored this book. It reminded me of The Help in that it observ

    I adored this book. It reminded me of The Help in that it observes race relations and
    the struggles of African Americans. I like Stuart Nadler's writing style and found the story compelling.
    I was quite surprised when I learned it was a first novel. I just bought his collection of short stories
    and eagerly await Mr. Nadler's future novels. I read a lot of fiction and this was my favorite book in a long while.
    Highly recommended for readers of serious fiction and family sagas.

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  • Posted March 13, 2013

    Good Read

    I enjoyed reading this novel. The journey of Hilly, the narrator, is compelling. His father, Robert, is an interesting but flawed human being. Hilly's recollections of his father are powerful. I hated the dad at the beginning of the novel and loved him by the end. Perhaps like his son, I forgave him for his many sins. Stuart Nadler has a writing style that is lean and beautiful. Wise Men features complex characters and a memorable plot. I would recommend Wise Men to readers who enjoy love stories and family dramas. I look forward to the author's next novel.

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    Posted March 13, 2013

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    Posted March 30, 2013

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    Posted April 9, 2013

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    Posted February 4, 2013

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    Posted March 30, 2013

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    Posted June 12, 2013

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