Having met at Ithaca University as graduate students, the millennial year of 2000 soon approaching, Sydney Steinberg and Corinna Kipnis consider each other their exclusive significant other. While after graduation, Corinna takes up a position as reference librarian in her hometown library of Thompsonville, Syd hastens to finish his graduate degree in engineering. But after some irrepressible soul-searching, he decides on a radical change of course—he will, instead, attempt that more challenging career in the New York financial world he has always aspired to, which, in his estimate, will not only demand his highest level of intellectual mastery but, simultaneously, will also position him at the very cutting edge of significant decision making. This choice and the lifestyle it engenders set Corinna and Syd on deeply discordant life tracks and toward life goals that prove incompatible. In the meantime, Viktor, Corinna’s father and now professor emeritus, has been summoned to California for a hospital visit with his cousin and boyhood hero, Mitchell Kipnis. Despite Mitchell’s palatial Malibu home, Viktor perceives Mitchell’s loneliness as a widower and retiree and convinces him that a prolonged vacation in his old hometown—Thompsonville—is just what the doctor would have ordered. Additionally, Viktor reminds Mitchell, that his son Paul, has just taken a position at Ely College in Thompsonville and would be an added companion. Mitchell consents to this transition and eventually becomes a thoroughly vibrant part of the whole Thompsonville scene. Inevitably, Corinna and Syd separate; and through this painful process, Corinna actually begins to fall in love with another person—having herself attained a depth and confidence she had never before realized. In this generational and career mix of interesting, well-realized characters, there are more than enough opportunities for dynamic clashes of values and priorities—small-town community or big-city glitz? Wealth and power or a dedication to personal development? Parents and their children retaining familial ties between generations or opting to go it alone? Plenty of opportunity for second thoughts. And hopefully discovering second chances along the way, the reader might be drawn into some thoughtful reevaluation of his own basic assumptions. And that is, of course, the best of all outcomes.
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