Three- Martini Lunch follows the stories of Cliff, Eden and Miles in late 1950’s New York. Cliff is a university drop out with ambitions of becoming an acclaimed author. Eden has come to New York to build a career in publishing with the hopes of one day becoming an editor. Miles is soon to graduate from Columbia, an intelligent and thoughtful young man he too has literary ambitions. The novel is written in a first person narrative that switches between each of the protagonists’ perspectives. The lives of Cliff, Eden and Miles interweave as the plot develops.
The narration feels informal and intimate with a notable difference in narration style as the novel switches to each character’s perspective. Cliff is arrogant and lazy; he is far more concerned with the acclaim a writer receives than with actually doing any writing. Meanwhile, Eden is the fresh faced and naïve graduate who works incredibly hard, but finds it challenging to build a career in a male dominated and sexist publishing industry. Whilst Miles is a very intelligent and sensitive character, his own ambitions seem somewhat smaller than Eden and Cliff’s, perhaps as a result, of his position as an Africa American in 1950s America.
In many ways these characters feel very familiar and unoriginal. On initial reading I feared that the novel would fail to tread any new ground. However, although the novel is rather clichéd in its range of characters, which ultimately, include a writer with an enormous ego, who spends most of his time drinking, a young country girl who wants to make it in the big apple and a young man from an underprivileged background who just wants to find his place in society, I still found it highly enjoyable.
Rindell is an author of very high calibre. She writes characters that, though lacking originality, are multidimensional and well developed. The ability to make Cliff, who is horrendously vain and selfish at points, endearing and vulnerable, is an accomplished feat. Moreover, the story has a good pace to it with many twists to the plot, the result of which makes the reader race through to the end. Rindell is also very successful at creating a sense of 1950s New York.
Rindell is rather ambitious with all the themes she covers in Three- Martini Lunch. This includes: race, sexism, sexuality, betrayal, father-child relationships, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Unsurprisingly, the depth of each of the themes and how Rindell deals with issues surrounding such subjects is variable. Perhaps, this novel would have been more satisfying if it dealt with fewer topics and instead explored them in greater depth. Although, the novel’s enormous breadth of subjects does not deter away from the enjoyment of the novel, as a whole.
I would recommend this novel to fans of modern historical fiction and contemporary fiction. Although it is not a novel that will change the literary landscape, it is still a good read.
About the Author
Suzanne Rindell is a doctoral student in American modernist literature at Rice University. Her first novel, THE OTHER TYPIST, debuted on May 7, 2013. It has been translated into 15 languages and optioned for film by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Her second novel, THREE-MARTINI LUNCH, was published by Allison & Busby in April , 2016. She lives in New York City and is currently working on a third novel.
Review by Beth – Hillingdon Libraries.
The Other Typist is available to borrow immediately and Three Martini Lunch will be coming soon.
Thanks for reading!