STARRED REVIEW
July 2016

Three generations of Olyphant women face their demons

By Stuart Nadler
Tragedy comes in threes. A myth or not, it’s true in the Olyphant family. Henrietta and Harold Olyphant didn’t have it all, exactly, but what they had was great. They met when she was a brash young professor. Over their decades-long marriage, Henrietta published a racy novel whose legacy she’s never quite escaped, and Harold opened a restaurant whose success eventually ended.
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Tragedy comes in threes. A myth or not, it’s true in the Olyphant family. Henrietta and Harold Olyphant didn’t have it all, exactly, but what they had was great. They met when she was a brash young professor. Over their decades-long marriage, Henrietta published a racy novel whose legacy she’s never quite escaped, and Harold opened a restaurant whose success eventually ended. 

Soon after, so too did their not-quite-fairy-tale romance: Harold slipped and hit his head on the front walk. Nearly a year after his death, Henrietta’s pain remains acute—and it is made even more so by her dwindling bank account. 

Now the Olyphants’ daughter, Oona, has separated from her husband and moved back in with Henrietta. When a topless photo of Oona’s daughter, Lydia, starts making the rounds, three generations of Olyphant women find themselves under the same dilapidated roof. 

Stuart Nadler’s female protagonists are so fully formed and relatable that readers may be surprised to realize the author is male. The Inseparables braids the stories of these generations, creating an emotional landscape that draws the reader into each character’s world. Henrietta’s relationship to her late husband, in particular, paints a vivid image of an imperfect but meaningful marriage. As the Olyphant women wrestle with their predicaments, they learn another truth: Sometimes, strength and love also come in threes.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Inseparables

The Inseparables

By Stuart Nadler
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316335256

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