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Hilly Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy 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 i Hilly Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy 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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Hilly Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy 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 i Hilly Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy 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.

30 review for Wise Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars. Stuart Nadler's terrific book explores the complex relationship between father and son, and how spending one's life trying to be something other than what is expected can be emotionally crippling. It's also a book about the powerful hold unrequited love has over you, and like Ian McEwan's Atonement, it's also a story of how a snap decision made in the heat of the moment can have life-changing implications. Hilly Wise is a teenager growing up in New Haven when his father, A I'd rate this 4.5 stars. Stuart Nadler's terrific book explores the complex relationship between father and son, and how spending one's life trying to be something other than what is expected can be emotionally crippling. It's also a book about the powerful hold unrequited love has over you, and like Ian McEwan's Atonement, it's also a story of how a snap decision made in the heat of the moment can have life-changing implications. Hilly Wise is a teenager growing up in New Haven when his father, Arthur, an ambulance-chasing attorney, lands a major case following a tragic plane crash. The case makes Arthur one of the wealthiest and most famous attorneys, reviled by airlines and other businesses, and sought after by individuals whose lives have been affected by tragedy. In the summer of 1952, Arthur moves his family to a beach house in the small town of Bluepoint on Cape Cod, where his law partner, Robert, also moves to an adjacent house on the property. Arthur and his wife easily settle into the life of the newly rich and powerful, but Hilly struggles. In Bluepoint, Hilly meets Lem Dawson, the black man whose job it is to care for the Wises' house, and although Arthur discourages it, Hilly strikes up a tentative friendship with Lem, borne partly out of sympathy for the way his father treats Lem, partly out of curiosity and loneliness. Hilly finds himself falling in love with Lem's troubled niece, Savannah, although he is unsure exactly how to express his affection. And in one moment, a decision that Hilly makes has shattering consequences for all of them. Years later, an adult Hilly, working as a reporter, tries to track Savannah down, in an effort to satisfy his longing and his curiosity at how her life turned out, as well as to assuage his guilt. But picking up where you left off—especially in a situation like this—is more difficult than one would imagine, and his relationship with his father once again leaves everything awry. And all of these feelings, and all of the familial history, continues to follow him through the rest of his life. This is a powerful, well-told story about love, guilt, resentment, and trying to escape your destiny. Nadler does a great job creating a compelling story that transcends these familiar themes, and while Hilly at times seems a little too spineless and sad-sack, and Arthur seems to be a bit of a caricature at times, the narrative packs a resounding, emotional punch. Some of the plot you'll see coming, some you may not, but it's a story that will fascinate you, frustrate you, and ultimately, move you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Philippe Malzieu

    There are literary places. A geographical conjunction of human and social factors able to create the drama. It was for Proust Cabourg and the Grand Hôtel. Cap Code belongs to this places. US aristocracy meet between here. This human society has its own codes and rituals. They live protected in magnific house.The son of Wise, a great and powerful lawyer, is in love with the niece of Lem, his black domestic. That could be a mix of « Downton Abbey » and « Guess who's coming to dinner » (last Spence There are literary places. A geographical conjunction of human and social factors able to create the drama. It was for Proust Cabourg and the Grand Hôtel. Cap Code belongs to this places. US aristocracy meet between here. This human society has its own codes and rituals. They live protected in magnific house.The son of Wise, a great and powerful lawyer, is in love with the niece of Lem, his black domestic. That could be a mix of « Downton Abbey » and « Guess who's coming to dinner » (last Spencer Tracy movie). This transgression will be involuntarily at the origin of the drama. The past of Wise re-appear. Lem will die. As said Balzac « At the origin of each fortune, there is a crime. » Many years later, the son of Wise will leave in search of the niece of Lem. Undoubtedly a kind of redemption for him. But things are not also simple. There is only in american litterature wher I find novel able to approach topics as difficults as religion, difference of class, family, social success without militancy or pathos. This nowel is particulary successfull. It would make a splendid film.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    I love first novels. So much promise and such a thrill when a first-time author has written a really good book. Stuart Nadler has written a first novel and it's a really, really good book: Wise Men. The story begins in a fictional Cape Cod town located between Wellfleet and Truro where Art Wise has bought a modest summer house. Art had been an ambulance chaser until he took on a class action suit against an airline, accusing the company of negligence. Before long he was working for airline compan I love first novels. So much promise and such a thrill when a first-time author has written a really good book. Stuart Nadler has written a first novel and it's a really, really good book: Wise Men. The story begins in a fictional Cape Cod town located between Wellfleet and Truro where Art Wise has bought a modest summer house. Art had been an ambulance chaser until he took on a class action suit against an airline, accusing the company of negligence. Before long he was working for airline companies, finding ways to protect them from such suits. He and his partner, Robert Ashley, became extremely rich. Hilly Wise, Art's 17-year-old son, falls in love that first summer on the Cape, with Savannah, the niece of his father's hired hand, Lem Dawson, a black man. The adults come between them and Art accuses Lem of theft, prosecutes, and sees that he is given a stiff sentence in state prison. Three months later Lem is murdered by another inmate. Hilly feels guilty and suspects his father had something to do with the murder. Art denies it but as time goes along Hilly can't forget his part in Lem's arrest. And he doesn't forget Savannah. He refuses to take any of his father's money and becomes a newspaper reporter whose specialty is the civil rights movement. Reading that a brick had been thrown through the window of Savannah's father's cafe in a small Iowa town, he visits in hopes of meeting Savannah again. He does, but things don't work out the way he had hoped. Savannah is married, and Hilly goes back to Boston and he marries, too. Eventually his dad gives him the house on the cape, where he and his family live for many years. The fraught relationship between the nouveau-rich Art and his judgemental son is well portrayed. In the scenes in the beginning of the book, Hilly's immaturity and the lack of judgement that makes him responsible for Lem's prosecution are tense and sad. Late in the book the mood is elegaic as Art and Bob, the old men, are becoming frail. Hilly still thinks of Savannah and arranges for her to visit him at the house on the Cape. Nadler spins the plot into gold. Hilly's relationship with his father and his inability to forget Savannah are touching, and the ending, which has some surprises as all good plots do, is splendid.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeri Collins

    This book was such a disappointment. It was selected based on the interesting description but sadly the story itself did not live up to the book jacket. I don't think this is a story about fathers and sons at all, nor is it about racial violence. There is a father and a son in the story; and racial violence occurs but what either of those things have to do with the story line is tenuous at best. I think it is about the narrator who is a guy that never grows up. Hilly is a Peter Pan type of guy. This book was such a disappointment. It was selected based on the interesting description but sadly the story itself did not live up to the book jacket. I don't think this is a story about fathers and sons at all, nor is it about racial violence. There is a father and a son in the story; and racial violence occurs but what either of those things have to do with the story line is tenuous at best. I think it is about the narrator who is a guy that never grows up. Hilly is a Peter Pan type of guy. He has ideas about what his life might be like but he never actually puts anything together. He says he doesn't want his father's money but of course he takes it and lives off it for the bulk of his life. He picks a job as a journalist but only so he can, for lack of a better word, stalk a woman he had a crush on when he's a teenager. He says Lem is his friend, but then he starts a series of events that ends in tragedy. And there is never any good reason given for why he betrays his friend Save me from friends like Hilly! I saw nothing that Hilly brought to anyone's life. Other people were building their lives around him but he had some vision of what might have been that he couldn't ever get over. Had it not been for Jenny, his wife, who gets completely dismissed in this story - I think Hilly would have ended up very badly. The end of the story is a complete disappointment - what a cliche throwaway of an ending. I guess the commonality of "forbidden" love was, in the end, the tie between Hilly and his father? Hilly's mother was present in the story but completely absent from his life. The writing was good -- the story was terrible.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    While the descriptive writing in this was really pretty good, I did not care for the rest at all. The relationships between the characters are completely unbelievable.(view spoiler)[ I am over books with main characters who conveniently end up with piles of money at the end. Also the one sentence when the main character states that there is no point in writing about his life with his wife because they were happy just really rubbed me the wrong way. He may have been happy but I wonder how she fel While the descriptive writing in this was really pretty good, I did not care for the rest at all. The relationships between the characters are completely unbelievable.(view spoiler)[ I am over books with main characters who conveniently end up with piles of money at the end. Also the one sentence when the main character states that there is no point in writing about his life with his wife because they were happy just really rubbed me the wrong way. He may have been happy but I wonder how she felt knowing her husband was still writing mystery letters to another woman and emailing her every birthday. Also the idea that there was guilt on Hilly's part over the death of Lem was ridiculous. They were not friends and let's face it, Lem was doing what he was accused of doing. Although the idea of him reading confidential correspondence in an attempt to get blackmail material was like everything else in this book, a huge stretch. (hide spoiler)] The twist at the end? So predictable and not even that interesting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dean Cummings

    In the spring of 1947 a passenger plane, owned by Boston Airways, crashed near Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Fifty-six people died in the crash, thirteen of them children. Arthur Wise, a New Haven based “slip-and-fall-and-sue attorney” happened to be connected to one of the passengers on the fated flight, a brother of one of his old law school classmates. In the weeks and months following the disaster, Wise researched the circumstances of the crash, along with the safety and maintenance record In the spring of 1947 a passenger plane, owned by Boston Airways, crashed near Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Fifty-six people died in the crash, thirteen of them children. Arthur Wise, a New Haven based “slip-and-fall-and-sue attorney” happened to be connected to one of the passengers on the fated flight, a brother of one of his old law school classmates. In the weeks and months following the disaster, Wise researched the circumstances of the crash, along with the safety and maintenance records of the airline, finally concluding that he had a legal case against the airline, he filed suit against Boston Airways. Interestingly, in the late 1940’s, class action lawsuits were unusual, considered almost radical to most people. The few that did come to light, attracted heavy media attention while at the same time grabbing the interest of the general public. Arthur Wise understood, and took advantage of these conditions, one of the most notable came when during an interview, he described the Boston Airlines crash as “the biggest threat to civilian safety since the Blitz.” His theatrics and dramatic statements found a willing and attentive audience of post war Americans who no longer had Germans or Japanese to oppose. Even before the case went to trial, Arthur Wise was already becoming a celebrity in America. Wise ultimately won the case, along with a handsome settlement. From a historical standpoint, Wise’s success came at just the right time. Commercial aviation was becoming very popular, and every year there were more and more flights taking off from airports all over the world. But safety standards were not yet formalized in the airline industry, and as a result, between 1948 and 1952 there were hundreds of airplane crashes around the world. Wise was one of the few attorneys who’d taken on and beaten a corporate airline, because of this, he was often courted by the lead plaintiff’s lawyers to settle. This happened in dozens of class-action lawsuits that were similar in size and scope to his case against Boston Airlines. These conditions came together fantastically for Arthur Wise. The big corporate defense firms hired to represent the affected airlines, offered settlements as fast as Wise could file suit. He’d found his niche in the legal profession, no one wanted to challenge him, he was famous and was becoming fantastically wealthy. That’s when everything changed for the Wise Family. Hilton “Hilly” Wise, Arthur’s son was twelve years old when the Boston Airlines crash occurred, he was seventeen when his father moved he and his mother Ruth from New Haven to Wren’s Bridge, a bedroom community half hour north of Manhattan in order to be closer to the Court of Appeals in New York during the Boston Airlines case. Hilly was unhappy with the move, he missed his school friends, the neighborhood he lived and most of all, he missed playing baseball, their new home didn’t have a league. Hilly ran away from home, back to New Haven, but his father was there to pick him up to take him back to Wren’s Bridge almost immediately after his teenage son set foot back in his old neighborhood. Shortly after Arthur won the Boston Airlines case, he found himself in the financial position to purchase a beach home with an ocean view, something he’d always wanted and a symbol of his new found success. The new home was located near a place called Blue point, a small town on the far edge of the “flexed arm” of Cape Cod, between two other towns, Wellfleet and Truro. Hilly and his mom Ruth were taken to see their new home, and also saw that the place, about a mile down the shoreline, that Robert Ashley, Arthur’s partner in the firm was also to live. Hilly soon meets the “caretaker” of the property, a middle-aged Negro man named Lem Dawson who simply chose to remain after the previous owners sold the property to Arthur Wise. Both Arthur and to a slightly lesser extent, Hilly’s mom Ruth treat Lem dismissively as the hired man. Their initially vague prejudices also begin to show through where Lem is concerned. First, when Arthur begins referring to Dawson as “boy” and later when Arthur notices Hilly befriending Lem and discourages it in no uncertain terms. Lem is an important character, partly because of his own contribution to the story, and partly because he is the uncle of a young lady named Savannah Ewing. Lem’s sister, Savannah’s mom, has passed away and Savannah was since raised by her father Charles, a gambler with a spotty employment record who also happened to be a talented baseball player who through a series of unfortunate circumstances, was only given a tiny taste of major league action as a player. Mostly, Charles and Savannah live in near poverty. It is Savannah and Lem that change the course of the remainder of Hilly’s life. After reading “Wise Men” it comes as no surprise that Stuart Nadler has already won a number of awards as a writer. There are a number of aspects to his writing style that captured, and held my attention: Firstly, it’s the atmosphere. In a number of scenes, Nadler shows his penchant for slowing the pace of the story, just enough to allow us to consider and appreciate the importance of setting the characters find themselves in. One example that stood out in my memory was the way Nadler describes the Wise’s new house in Bluepoint, Massachusetts. “The house itself was spare, white, the floorboards bleached, the back windows open to the water. Salt air in the kitchen. Twin wicker settees in the living room, a shipman’s lanterns on a side table, a tide chart, two years old, folded on the lip of a broker radiator like a road map.” As I read scenes like these, I often pause to reflect on what a place like this would look like in my mind’s eye, knowing it’s a location that is sure to be visited over and over again over the course of the story. In another scene, Nadler describes the landscape of rural Iowa. “We’d taken the country road out of Ebbington, passing for ten miles through empty, flat country so stark, it seemed like land that hadn’t been discovered by man, just the dark space between towns. Towns in Iowa crop up unexpectedly, sometimes in the crook of an elbow, sometimes on what passes for high ground. Everything here is postglacial, steamrolled by ice, carved by wind.” While I enjoyed “Wise Men” I moved through it more slowly than I might with other titles. This is partly because of scenes like this one. I’ll read them, then set the book down, close my eyes and try to see the rural Iowa that Nadler is telling me about. Secondly, I like how Nadler injects authentic history into his story. I’ve always enjoyed reading the work of authors who do this well. In Nadler’s case these really stood out, including a reference to the connection between Arthur Wise and John F. Kennedy. “Jack Kennedy, at the time the congressman from Massachusetts’s Eleventh District. Kennedy, in 1952 was a few months away from running against Henry Cabot Lodge for the commonwealth’s Senate seat and had sent an emissary to curry favor with my father – a needless trip, for my father was a conservative in the most stringent sense: aggressive in his stance toward Communism, aggressive in his stance toward regulations of the market, and aggressive toward what he considered the cowardice of liberalism.” I appreciated how Nadler caused his fictional timelines to dovetail neatly with the actual history of John F. Kennedy’s political rise, a phenomenon that would’ve certainly played into almost any story taking place in Cape Cod during the early 1950’s. Lastly, and without giving too much away, I was amazed at the sense of nostalgia I felt as I passed the halfway mark of this novel. It’s a testament to the power that an exceptionally well crafted story has to suspend our sense of reality. Time in a fictional story and the “real time” passage of time are wildly out of sync when twenty years pass in just a number of chapters. Much reflection comes with these experiences, even though the “rational” part of our mind knows that this is a story of fiction and only a few hours or days have actually passed as we read. I experienced a strong sensation of this kind of reality suspension as I read this book. As a work of fiction where the sense of the passing of twenty years was so powerfully felt, I felt as though I had to shake it off. What a wonderful feeling! “Wise Men” really stood out from this aspect. A truly fantastic book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    Based upon the book description, Wise Men was something different and not what I expected. For me, the storyline didn't match the description or maybe I just didn't want a story that was centered primarily around Hilly and his horrible father. Or one that only treated Savannah as a secondary character. Also, while I know that bigots/racists come in all colors, shapes, sizes, genders,religions, creeds...it still annoys the heck out of me that another group that was abused, mistreated, persecuted Based upon the book description, Wise Men was something different and not what I expected. For me, the storyline didn't match the description or maybe I just didn't want a story that was centered primarily around Hilly and his horrible father. Or one that only treated Savannah as a secondary character. Also, while I know that bigots/racists come in all colors, shapes, sizes, genders,religions, creeds...it still annoys the heck out of me that another group that was abused, mistreated, persecuted (ie Jews) can still so easily and without conscious abuse and disrepect another group of folks (ie blacks). Or at least that's how the author portrayed Arthur Wise in this storyline...perception can often be reality. Maybe I shouldn't think too hard about this book because the more I think about it...the more disgusted I become with Hilly who was a coward and a liar and the more I wish I had never met his father, Arthur. Oh, and the ending...are you kidding me? Seems like a case of an author running out of steam but realizing that they must end the story some sort of way so they come up with something out of left field and that they believe to be sensational. Fortunately, I had already figured out the big secret in the middle of the storyline so I wasn't surprised...just perturbed that the author took so long and waited until the last minute for the reveal. This isn't a book that I would necessarily recommend to others...primarily because it's one that will be easily forgettable after a day or so. So, in closing, read at your own risk.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The book jacket screams, "... reminiscent of Harper Lee.." , "winsome and compelling narrator", "brilliantly plotted and carefully observed". I'd have to agree. If you lived in an alternate universe, that is, where any kind of falderal and gibberish passes for literature. This book has as much in common with Harper Lee as Homer, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, has in common with Homer Jay Simpson, erstwhile Safety Inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Harper Lee lived, and underst The book jacket screams, "... reminiscent of Harper Lee.." , "winsome and compelling narrator", "brilliantly plotted and carefully observed". I'd have to agree. If you lived in an alternate universe, that is, where any kind of falderal and gibberish passes for literature. This book has as much in common with Harper Lee as Homer, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, has in common with Homer Jay Simpson, erstwhile Safety Inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Harper Lee lived, and understood, To Kill a Mockingbird. Nadler watched the made-for-tv movie, took notes, and rendered a feeble facsimile of inter-racial tensions and complexities. At the very best, this book is an annoyance. At its worst, it is a violation against the civil rights movement and the intricacies of human interaction, in that very difficult post-war period in America. I am offended by the simple-minded narrative and dialogue that reads more like a pre-pubescent teen's novel-of-sexual-discovery than it does of any complicated social and racial issues. It's as if the author felt that if he threw in a Jew, a Black Man and a couple of homosexuals into the mix, stirred it up and threw some period-specific lingo, he'd have the perfect recipe for exploring the emotional ferment of that period from the 1950s to 1970s. Better to have titled the novel Idiot in America, for the punning of the Wise family moniker with the wise men really grates like nails on chalkboard.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book is written by someone who is a product of the Iowa Writer's Workshop so it is no surprise that it was a very good book. Also Iowa has a bit part. Mostly the story is about a father and son and their relationship as well as the way the times they are living in shape them. The 1950s through the 1970s was a time of prejudice of all kinds, but especially racial prejudice and tension. A relationship between a poor black (African American) girl and a white middle class boy whose family moves This book is written by someone who is a product of the Iowa Writer's Workshop so it is no surprise that it was a very good book. Also Iowa has a bit part. Mostly the story is about a father and son and their relationship as well as the way the times they are living in shape them. The 1950s through the 1970s was a time of prejudice of all kinds, but especially racial prejudice and tension. A relationship between a poor black (African American) girl and a white middle class boy whose family moves up economically to the rich is one of the main themes. And like real life in those times the situation is complex and confusing, frustrating, and unfair. The author captures the feeling of this time period well. He describes the smoking, drinking, ostentation of those "moving on up". It is the time when white men could start from little or nothing and become well to do. The same time period covered by the series Mad Men. I thought this book was coming to an end several times and then it would go on to another chapter, just as real life does. Captivating and realistic. Not predictable. Good to the end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jayarby

    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 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Huda

    Something about it reminded me of The Great Gatsby-- the story is in the shadow of a rich, self-made man who, while not admirable, is very compelling. It kept me wanting to read even though I did not love any of the characters. At times, it felt melodramatic and I hesitated between 3 and 4 stars. But in the end, I feel it captured a remarkable transition in American history and it was beautifully rendered without the writing being overdone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Val

    This book, as told from the first person, reads like a memoir. It spans 7 decades and multiple socioeconomic levels. It covers race relations and interpersonal relations. It tells of the miscommunications between and father and a son. It is a microcosm of a life. I was sucked into its pages and didn't want to leave until the very end, when the world of the book was totally upended. It was very well written. I'm looking forward to the next novel by Stuart Nadler. This book, as told from the first person, reads like a memoir. It spans 7 decades and multiple socioeconomic levels. It covers race relations and interpersonal relations. It tells of the miscommunications between and father and a son. It is a microcosm of a life. I was sucked into its pages and didn't want to leave until the very end, when the world of the book was totally upended. It was very well written. I'm looking forward to the next novel by Stuart Nadler.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vince

    2.5 stars. Nadler has assembled several elements of a good story in Wise Men but never seems to quite pull it together in a cohesive way. The characters are just shadows and never fully realized. The drama is not all that dramatic. Sorry, but at about the half-way point I was just reading so I could say I finished the book. I believe the author has potential so here's hoping that his next effort shows improvement. 2.5 stars. Nadler has assembled several elements of a good story in Wise Men but never seems to quite pull it together in a cohesive way. The characters are just shadows and never fully realized. The drama is not all that dramatic. Sorry, but at about the half-way point I was just reading so I could say I finished the book. I believe the author has potential so here's hoping that his next effort shows improvement.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen6400

    It felt like a collection of red herrings poorly weaved together. Sporadic character development, limited sense of suspense, lacking strong visual descriptions ... and the last page 'reveal' was pretty weak. There were some good ideas around which to create a good novel, but this one did not work for me. It felt like a collection of red herrings poorly weaved together. Sporadic character development, limited sense of suspense, lacking strong visual descriptions ... and the last page 'reveal' was pretty weak. There were some good ideas around which to create a good novel, but this one did not work for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This book started off very good and slowed down about halfway. I wanted to like it more but ....I lost interest in the main characters. The descriptive writing is very good, it had potential.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    A well written engaging novel about coming of age, of learning what is most important and spending your whole life trying to remind others of what is important. Wonderful!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I admired Wise Men more than outright loving it, though there’s a lot to like: the sweep of its settings, its tackling of race and power and extreme wealth, its tenderness towards its characters, and how unafraid it is to tip its hat toward sentimentality. Hilly Wise, who begins his narration at age 17 in the summer of 1952, develops an occasional childlike sense of wonder that makes a comparison to Cheever not at all out of line. There are echoes of Roth here too (the Wises are Jewish) and mayb I admired Wise Men more than outright loving it, though there’s a lot to like: the sweep of its settings, its tackling of race and power and extreme wealth, its tenderness towards its characters, and how unafraid it is to tip its hat toward sentimentality. Hilly Wise, who begins his narration at age 17 in the summer of 1952, develops an occasional childlike sense of wonder that makes a comparison to Cheever not at all out of line. There are echoes of Roth here too (the Wises are Jewish) and maybe John Irving. For the first third of the book I kind of felt like I remember feeling when I read A Separate Peace or Montana 1948 my freshman year in high school. As Hilly grows up to be a journalist covering the civil rights beat in the early 70’s, bringing along with him his guilt over the tragedy that transpired in that summer years ago, the book moves fully into autobiography--clearly the present-day Hilly has something to get off his chest. He’s not just haunted by Savannah, the black girl he fell for (and whose uncle Lem was “houseboy” to his irascibly charming yet often detestable father, the lawyer Arthur Wise), but by the shadow of Arthur’s wealth, whose gravity Hilly is eventually in no place to protest as being his own, too. Speaking of which: the obscenity of that fortune exploding in the litigious aftermath of plane crashes and other calamities aside, I had a hard time believing in or caring for the accompanying fame that Nadler bestows on Arthur. There are thousands of Arthur Wises these days in the lobbying and legal industries and DC’s power elite, so maybe I can’t appreciate what a big deal it was to sue a company into oblivion in the 50’s and 60’s and achieve some kind of celebrity along the way. The ending--whose moving revelation I predicted halfway through the book--is not surprising, as one review put it, but it isn't far off from “deeply satisfying” either. It's not the Great American Novel (ahem, Amazon), but it's a very good one.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Gloade-Raining Bird

    I can already assume this will be a contender for my favourite book of the year. The son of a lawyer, Hilly Wise, is caught up in a life he doesn’t recognize when his father wins a big negligence case against an airline. Part of the nouveau riche in Cape Cod in the early ’50s Hilly meets and falls in love with a young African American girl, Savannah, at a time when their relationship only finds obstacle after obstacle, not the least among them, his overtly racist father. The summer they spend to I can already assume this will be a contender for my favourite book of the year. The son of a lawyer, Hilly Wise, is caught up in a life he doesn’t recognize when his father wins a big negligence case against an airline. Part of the nouveau riche in Cape Cod in the early ’50s Hilly meets and falls in love with a young African American girl, Savannah, at a time when their relationship only finds obstacle after obstacle, not the least among them, his overtly racist father. The summer they spend together changes him and the rest of the book chronicles how one season carries through and touches the rest of his life. Stuart Nadler is pretty fantastic. I wasn’t especially excited to read this book but from the first couple pages, I was completely drawn in. It’s not that any of the characters are particularly likeable, actually, most of them are maddening—but to watch them each circling their own drain is immensely satisfying. Nadler isn’t heavy handed with serious themes, they take a back seat to character development—people who you might love then hate, but at the very least, constantly surprise you. (originally posted on http://birdykins.wordpress.com/2013/0...)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book seems to have received a lot of hype, which I guess makes it all the more disappointing for me. Nadler is a good writer, but the story throughout was just lacking. I kept waiting for more backstory on Arthur, Hilly's mom (see, I forgot her name already), Robert, Savannah, and especially Lem. Never really happened. The only confession we get from Arthur is that "it was an accident". What?? That's it?? And, PS - authors take note - I am really tired of the big secret being a gay relation This book seems to have received a lot of hype, which I guess makes it all the more disappointing for me. Nadler is a good writer, but the story throughout was just lacking. I kept waiting for more backstory on Arthur, Hilly's mom (see, I forgot her name already), Robert, Savannah, and especially Lem. Never really happened. The only confession we get from Arthur is that "it was an accident". What?? That's it?? And, PS - authors take note - I am really tired of the big secret being a gay relationship. It seems like this is the "climax" of so many books lately. I'm so over it. Please get more creative! I guessed that a third of the way through this book anyway. At least make it more complex. Maybe Hilly's mom could have been sleeping with Robert too? Ugh. Would I recommend it? No. BUT, I do think Nadler has great potential and I will check out his future novels.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    The story of Hilton Wise as he grows up under the shadow of his father and the irreversible consequences of a decision made during his seventeenth year. The first half of the book moved quickly--I was very absorbed in the story. The second half, however, was missing something. I would have liked Nadler to expand more on crucial elements within the storyline. The ending is a bit of a surprise, but it leaves the reader wanting -- I can't put my finger on what exactly, but I did feel there were too The story of Hilton Wise as he grows up under the shadow of his father and the irreversible consequences of a decision made during his seventeenth year. The first half of the book moved quickly--I was very absorbed in the story. The second half, however, was missing something. I would have liked Nadler to expand more on crucial elements within the storyline. The ending is a bit of a surprise, but it leaves the reader wanting -- I can't put my finger on what exactly, but I did feel there were too many things left unsaid. All in all, a good novel with characters that depict life from the 1950s through present day. How do we live with the choices we make? How do we reconcile our mistakes along the way?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janet Richards

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed the story, although I'm left with a vague feeling of wishing there was more. More of Hilly's life, more romance, more about Arthur, more about the big mystery, just more. I wasn't left with enough to know why Hilly was obsessed for so long with Savannah. My mind and imagination can make up some of it, and the story was sweet - but not entirely convincing for me. I can't say the big reveal at the end caught me that much by surprise either. There were more than enough clues in my mind th I enjoyed the story, although I'm left with a vague feeling of wishing there was more. More of Hilly's life, more romance, more about Arthur, more about the big mystery, just more. I wasn't left with enough to know why Hilly was obsessed for so long with Savannah. My mind and imagination can make up some of it, and the story was sweet - but not entirely convincing for me. I can't say the big reveal at the end caught me that much by surprise either. There were more than enough clues in my mind that while I can't say I predicted it - I just wasn't surprised by it either. While I enjoyed it - I can't say I'd read it again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gary Warburton

    I read this after seeing that the editors at Amazon.com had chosen it as their spotlight book for January 2013. I usually don't read books based on the recommendations of critics and now I remember why. The editors at Amazon.com must be easily impressed. I believe they compared this book to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and to one of Roth's works. I've never read any Roth, but this book doesn't come anywhere close to even touching "To Kill a Mockingbird" greatness. At best it is on par with some of Ni I read this after seeing that the editors at Amazon.com had chosen it as their spotlight book for January 2013. I usually don't read books based on the recommendations of critics and now I remember why. The editors at Amazon.com must be easily impressed. I believe they compared this book to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and to one of Roth's works. I've never read any Roth, but this book doesn't come anywhere close to even touching "To Kill a Mockingbird" greatness. At best it is on par with some of Nicholas Sparks's lesser novels. I'm definitely glad I got it from the library and didn't pay anything for it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    It was okay, but not the great book it sounded like it was going to be. The characters just didn't seem real to me, the father a caricature of a vulgar super-rich guy, the mother almost nonexistent, the protagonist alternately scattered, obsessed, principled, and sold-out lazy. The race issue didn't really seem "integrated" (excuse the pun) with the narrative despite being central in a way ... overall disappointing. It was okay, but not the great book it sounded like it was going to be. The characters just didn't seem real to me, the father a caricature of a vulgar super-rich guy, the mother almost nonexistent, the protagonist alternately scattered, obsessed, principled, and sold-out lazy. The race issue didn't really seem "integrated" (excuse the pun) with the narrative despite being central in a way ... overall disappointing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Margot

    This book was pretty disappointing considering all the hype it got at Amazon. The story has been told before and it seemed just to bob around without much direction. The "surprise" at the ending seemed very contrived and did not really deliver any bang. This one really reads like a first novel. It has some good moments and it does hold the reader's attention but falls short of being anything special. This book was pretty disappointing considering all the hype it got at Amazon. The story has been told before and it seemed just to bob around without much direction. The "surprise" at the ending seemed very contrived and did not really deliver any bang. This one really reads like a first novel. It has some good moments and it does hold the reader's attention but falls short of being anything special.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This was a book with amazing potential. Unfortunately it was unable to live up to that potential. The book description had the reader poised for what was sure to be an interesting read and to be fair there was evidence throughout the book that the author had the intention to deliver just such a book. In the end all that was left was a book full of character who were never fully developed, unanswered questions, plot lines that were simply abandoned and a sense that something had been missed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    Spectacular! Storyline and character development reminiscent of Harper Lee as the story opens in the 50's. The novel brings the reader willingly from the 50's thru present day with one not wanting it to end. Wonderful story and a richly written text that will make many think of their own lives and how they have grown or not, over the last 50 years. This is a great novel, sure to be a classic. Spectacular! Storyline and character development reminiscent of Harper Lee as the story opens in the 50's. The novel brings the reader willingly from the 50's thru present day with one not wanting it to end. Wonderful story and a richly written text that will make many think of their own lives and how they have grown or not, over the last 50 years. This is a great novel, sure to be a classic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Early into this book, set on Cape Cod in the fifties, an older African American man, speaking to a teen, ends a comment with the phrase, "you do the math". I stopped reading at that point. If the author didn't see that as completely out of time and place, an editor should have. Early into this book, set on Cape Cod in the fifties, an older African American man, speaking to a teen, ends a comment with the phrase, "you do the math". I stopped reading at that point. If the author didn't see that as completely out of time and place, an editor should have.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharalyn Caughel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I won this book, and rec'd it 1/31/13. I won this book, and rec'd it 1/31/13.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sally Drake

    First half was stronger than the second half, but very readable and very American story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lizzi

    Absolutely blown away. Full review: http://wp.me/p1T6v8-tH Absolutely blown away. Full review: http://wp.me/p1T6v8-tH

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