The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Beth is less than thrilled when her husband, Matt, announces they are moving to Washington, DC. Beth loves New York City and all that comes with it, and DC is an intense culture shock. Matt is involved with President Obama's campaign and the couple's life revolves completely around politics. Beth, a writer, tires easily of the endless business talk and her husband's obsession with politics and the DC scene. Soon Matt and Beth meet Jimmy and Ashleigh. Jimmy works at the White House as well. The couples become fast friends, sharing meals, parties, and vacations. But as Jimmy raises in the ranks in politics, the friendship becomes quickly threatened by jealousy.
I was intrigued by the premise of this book--a relationship set to the backdrop of the Obama campaign and administration. Living close to the DC area, I can say that Close's description of many DC citizens is spot on: the Blackberrys, the obsession with security clearance and work standing, the fashion. She's excellent at weaving a story in the details.
The problem, however, is that Beth--the novel's narrator--is just so dull. She's beyond passive, willing to watch life unravel as she watches. It doesn't seem as if Beth is interested in anything, beyond whining. After a while, I just became so frustrated with her, I wanted to scream. It doesn't help that her husband, Matt, is similarly self-absorbed, and Jimmy and Ashleigh aren't any more likable. The book sort of bumps along, with no real movement to swing it along, or a character with any redeeming quality of any sort (good or bad). Even the DC details can't save this often frustrating novel from its own irksome and passive characters. 2.5 stars.
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