Told in a casual, ruminative first-person voice, Beautiful Women; Ugly Scenes is an eyewitness report from an affluent old town near Princeton, the kind of suburb that real-estate agents call picturesque…. Life would be idyllic if only the couples living in these painstakingly renovated houses could get along. "But Alice and I had not even really liked each other for some time," confesses Bryan's narrator—"nor had we met any other couples who did!"
The hero of this utterly absorbing novel, a documentary-film maker dedicated to "the courtship and seduction of beautiful women," is in the midst of what he shamelessly calls a "mid-life crisis." His second marriage is foundering; he's...
(The entire section is 933 words.)