I bought and read "The Red Book", by Deborah Copaken Kogan, on the advise of some good friends - (Hi Betz and Bonnie!) - and was really not expecting much. Oh, maybe a four star look at the typical group of old college buddies - peopled with the standard WASP, Jewish, black, and Asian characters - each described with the short-hand caricatures of age-old womens' novels. And it was set at Harvard, no less, where everyone starts out brilliant!
But Kogan's novel was a much deeper, better written book than any of the genre I've read before. She cleverly and deftly draws her four main characters - Harvard grads who are reuniting for their 20th year reunion - with nary a caricature. (Except, maybe, the WASP character's name. I mean, "Addison Cornwall Hunt"?) By using the form of entries written for the class "Red Book" which describe each character from the basics of address, spouse/partner, job, children, and then going into what has happened since the previous "Red Book" entry five years previously, Kogan is masterful in her introduction to Addison, Mia, Clover, and Jane. But Kogan doesn't end with the main characters. She draws her secondary characters - in most cases family members of the four - as well as other Harvard alumni, who she also sketches by using the "Red Book" entries.
Set in those financially shaky days of June 2009, the four women return to Boston for their 20th reunion. All are involved in relationships - some shaky, some strong - and they are accompanied by their significant others and their children. The women are also accompanied by secrets; secrets they're holding off from each other and from their loved ones. Some secrets are of a financial nature and others are of more personal and intimate nature. As the weekend unfolds, those secrets and the love they feel for each other is displayed.
This is a book with not one false step in either plot or character development. Not one. It's simply a well-written book about interesting characters, drawn by an author with a firm hand. Excellent in every way.