Alternate Side

Alternate Side

The tensions in a tight-knit neighborhood—and a seemingly happy marriage—are exposed by an unexpected act of violence in this provocative new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Miller’s Valley and Still Life with Bread Crumbs.Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband, Charlie, lead a charmed life—except when there’s a crisis at work, a leak i...

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Title:Alternate Side
Author:Anna Quindlen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Alternate Side Reviews

  • Linda

    Two people can share one umbrella, but can they survive the storm together?

    Manhattan is the mecca for those who weave their way onto the wide and burgeoning lap of New York City. Funny how that works out. Most who possess the placcard of New Yorker are from someplace else.

    Charlie and Nora Nolan have set stakes on a deadend street in this part of New York City. Most of the stately homes are from an era of long ago. Their twins, Oliver and Rachel, no longer reside with them and are attending colle

    Two people can share one umbrella, but can they survive the storm together?

    Manhattan is the mecca for those who weave their way onto the wide and burgeoning lap of New York City. Funny how that works out. Most who possess the placcard of New Yorker are from someplace else.

    Charlie and Nora Nolan have set stakes on a deadend street in this part of New York City. Most of the stately homes are from an era of long ago. Their twins, Oliver and Rachel, no longer reside with them and are attending college. But Homer? Now Homer, a furry Australian sheepdog of thirteen years, is their ticket to the outside world of neighbor upon neighbor. You can't help but engage in small talk with those who live in such close proximity while walking the little barkers several times a day.

    Anna Quindlen creates a ring-side seat, front and center, into the lives of Charlie, Nora, and those recognizable neighbors, both kindly and obnoxious. Life in the Big City is filled with trials and tribulations and surviving the onslaught of a constantly changing score card. Some days you're up at bat and hit it out of the park and other days you're benched for eternity.

    And it all begins with a parking space down the street. New Yorkers know that such a cue is like embracing the Holy Grail with both arms. Rare, dear friends, rare. Charlie doesn't realize that renting this spot on cracked concrete will lead to tragic circumstances.

    Quindlen, as only Quindlen can, sketches a "Lord of the Flies" situation here with neighbor against neighbor and emotions taking reign. Does the loudest voice always signal immediacy of command? And whose opinion carries the most weight? And what do your lying eyes tell you?

    Ah, dear readers, this is a little treasure of a read. Quindlen rounds out her storyline with humorous banter (laugh out loud), indepth backstories, and the painful observations of city life with "the haves" and "the have nots" who are aware and unaware of their social plights. Nora Nolan's daily interactions with a homeless man in front of the museum where she works is alone worth the price of admission. The mundane actions, day after day, are not so mundane after all.

    I received a copy of Alternate Side through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Random House and to the very talented Anna Quindlen for the opportunity.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐.75

    Alternate Side was a clever title for a story about the haves and have nots and neighbors on two sides of an issue. Set on a dead end street in Manhattan, Nora Nolan, married to Charlie, narrates this story.

    Overflowing with characters all residing close together, it took some time to get everyone straight. The pinnacle event happens over a dispute about a parking space. Anyone who’s lived somewhere where parking is at

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️.75

    Alternate Side was a clever title for a story about the haves and have nots and neighbors on two sides of an issue. Set on a dead end street in Manhattan, Nora Nolan, married to Charlie, narrates this story.

    Overflowing with characters all residing close together, it took some time to get everyone straight. The pinnacle event happens over a dispute about a parking space. Anyone who’s lived somewhere where parking is at a premium can probably relate to that.

    Where this book shone was with the insights into marriage, the relatable humor, and relaying profound messages in the ordinary. Overall, I found this a quiet read, easy to pick-up and put down. I will definitely be reading more from Quindlen.

    This was a Traveling Sister read, and as always, my sisters added to the experience in reading this book! For Traveling Sisters’ reviews, check out Brenda and Norma’s blog:

    Thank you to Anna Quindlen, the most generous Random House, and Netgalley for the complimentary copy to review.

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 Usually I become attached to this authors books rather quickly. That was not the case with this one, though the premise was interesting. A dead end street in New York, peopled by many of the same types, all overly privileged, out of touch with the little people. Most not very likable. Nora is our narrator, a mother, wife, with two grown children. She at least questions some of what she sees, actually has a brain that thinks. An incident happens on this self contained street, an incident that

    3.5 Usually I become attached to this authors books rather quickly. That was not the case with this one, though the premise was interesting. A dead end street in New York, peopled by many of the same types, all overly privileged, out of touch with the little people. Most not very likable. Nora is our narrator, a mother, wife, with two grown children. She at least questions some of what she sees, actually has a brain that thinks. An incident happens on this self contained street, an incident that will set off a spark, pitting resident against resident. Cracks will appear, widen in people, and marriages.

    The haves and the have nots, a common theme. These people, well the men in particular really bugged me, so self centered, quite off putting. It did though contain this authors wonderful insights on marriages and relationships. Some of these comments made me smile, hard not to relate to them, as I'm pretty sure all of us in long term marriages or relationships, will as well. Quite saved the book for me as I found these observation to be spot on in some cases.

    So even though I wanted shake some of these clueless people, once again Quindlen's writing shone through in her keen observations of marriage and life.

    ARC from Random House.

  • Liz

    This story couldn’t take place anywhere but New York City. It is almost a love story to the city. I mean, where else would snagging a parking space be such a huge event? It’s a story of first world problems and it’s the 1% of the first world.

    But that doesn’t make it boring. In typical fashion, Quinlen nails the static existence of a long term marriage, the highs and lows of being almost empty nesters, the quirky neighbors. Thank God she explains the title. Living in the suburbs, I had no clue.

    This story couldn’t take place anywhere but New York City. It is almost a love story to the city. I mean, where else would snagging a parking space be such a huge event? It’s a story of first world problems and it’s the 1% of the first world.

    But that doesn’t make it boring. In typical fashion, Quinlen nails the static existence of a long term marriage, the highs and lows of being almost empty nesters, the quirky neighbors. Thank God she explains the title. Living in the suburbs, I had no clue. Of course, the title goes on to mean so much more.

    There’s a great dry humor here. I mean, how true is this statement “Nora had always tended to see most things in shades of gray and she had noticed that logic and marital relations often seemed at odds with each other”.

    The book is all about the writing - the descriptions, the characterizations. She can focus in on something and in just a sentence or two, I was nodding my head - yes, yes, yes. I highlight sentences that speak to me. Here, I was highlighting lots of deliciously snarky conversations or thoughts. Such as “All the men seemed more attentive at dinner parties these days because they needed hearing aids and refused to get them.”

    Of course, what starts as something fairly light takes a dark turn when an act of violence divides the neighborhood. Not just the neighborhood, but the marriage. This isn’t a big story. It’s a story about the day to day. “People go through life thinking they’re making decisions when they’re really just making plans, which is not the same thing at all.”

    My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  • Cheri

    -- Manhattan – lyrics by Sara Bareilles

    Typically, character-driven novels draw you in, your emotions atta

    -- Manhattan – lyrics by Sara Bareilles

    Typically, character-driven novels draw you in, your emotions attach easily to someone who is sympathetic, who views the world in a way which you can relate to, or agree with, or one you can understand even if you don’t share it. When the characters don’t pull much emotion out of us, it’s harder to feel attached to the story. That was somewhat true for me reading this story.

    For me, in this story, the main character felt more as if it were really New York City, with Nora Nolan acting almost as the voice of the city. Bemoaning the changes, the rising costs, the doing away with the old and shoving in the new, trendy shops. Bemoaning a change in the vibe that is New York City. I loved seeing the city through her eyes, reading her thoughts on how it had been and what it has become, and though the changes have brought things that leave her nostalgic for the New York City that she came to know when she first moved there, it really isn’t as though she loves it any less, in her heart, it will always be the city as she first saw it, after she graduated from college. She was young, just beginning, with stars in her eyes and dreams for her life.

    Nora and her husband Charlie live in a rare neighborhood on a dead end street with twins, Oliver and Rachel. It’s not the kind of neighborhood where just anyone can afford to live, but they aren’t wealthy, at least not the kind of wealthy that has their name on businesses downtown. There’s a sense of it being the kind of neighborhood where neighbors know each other by name, and talk frequently, a friendliness that is more surface level with the men, that carries a sense of arrogance – that my xyz is better than your xyz - but friendliness is more of an active part of their lives with the women.

    There’s also part of this that focuses on the angst of a mother watching her children-who-are-no-longer-children go through milestones of life, where she recalls how she was at that age. Looking back.

    There are a few lovely passages, and some perceptive observations about life, choices, marriage and love which are so quietly snuck into a thought here or there, or something someone said sometime so long ago … there’s a wistful touch of looking back at a life lived. Quiet little books, it seems, are what Quindlen does so well.

    Pub Date: 20 Mar 2018

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group – Random House

  • Angela M

    “Miller’s Valley” was the first book I read by Anna Quindlen and I was so taken with the characters, the story, her writing in that book. I didn’t end up liking this one as much. The writing is good. I always enjoy books about NYC, and there are some important observations about marriage and how people connect. Quindlen provides food for thought in this book. The dichotomy between the lives of the wealthy people on this street and those who work for them is evident on a daily basis - alternate s

    “Miller’s Valley” was the first book I read by Anna Quindlen and I was so taken with the characters, the story, her writing in that book. I didn’t end up liking this one as much. The writing is good. I always enjoy books about NYC, and there are some important observations about marriage and how people connect. Quindlen provides food for thought in this book. The dichotomy between the lives of the wealthy people on this street and those who work for them is evident on a daily basis - alternate sides of the socioeconomic spectrum. Nora and Charlie Nolan are the center of this story about what happens on a Manhattan Street and more importantly what happened to their marriage. I got the feeling that Nora and Charlie’s marriage was already in trouble before he got the parking spot, before the “parking lot incident” and not just because of their “alternate sides” on that issue. I get the parking spot thing, although I’ve never had that issue. ****(See my digression below if you’re interested.)

    The “parking lot incident “ as it was referred to caused the neighbors to take sides and the true colors of some very unlikable characters come out . The handy man is hurt, the parking lot is closed , needed repairs remained unrepaired , neighbors become enemies, marriages already in trouble get worse. Life goes on - children graduate from college and move on, people change jobs ,people die, people drift apart. Because of the writing and the depiction of some substantial themes, I rate it three stars. I just didn’t find anything extraordinary here as is sometimes possible among the ordinary day to day lives of people. This won’t keep me from reading some of Quindlen’s earlier books which are so highly rated.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Random House through Edelweiss and NetGalley.

    ****( If you live in a place where you don’t have a parking issue, the amount of time spent on a parking spot in this book might seem over the top. I have always had access to parking be it on the street or a driveway and/ or garage but I can relate because I have family who live in Queens, a borough in NYC , on a narrow street where finding a place to park is nearly impossible. Whenever we visit, we call when we are five minutes away. We will be able to take the parking spot they have been holding for us with a car that will then be moved through a narrow shared driveway to the back of their house so the driveway is not blocked for their neighbors. Sounds unreal but this the way of life they are used to. They are always moving cars around. I get it the obsession with a parking spot in this book. I don’t, though, get the violence but then I have a driveway and a two car garage.)

  • Dorie

    This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Quindlen and the premise sounded like a great read. Many of my friends really enjoyed it, I am among the few that did not. Here’s why.

    I love character driven novels, the problem I had with this book is that I really didn’t like or care about any of the characters. The first person narrative is told to us by Nora Nolan, a New York city dweller since she graduated from college. She and her husband, Charlie live on a dead end street of old stately Vict

    This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Quindlen and the premise sounded like a great read. Many of my friends really enjoyed it, I am among the few that did not. Here’s why.

    I love character driven novels, the problem I had with this book is that I really didn’t like or care about any of the characters. The first person narrative is told to us by Nora Nolan, a New York city dweller since she graduated from college. She and her husband, Charlie live on a dead end street of old stately Victorian houses that have now been refurbished and are worth millions of dollars, apparently, in today’s marketplace. They have two children, twins, Oliver and Rachel who at the time of the story are in their senior year of college. Everyone in the neighborhood has an upper class income to be able to afford living there. Of all of the characters in the book I think that I liked Oliver and Rachel the best and liked their interaction with their parents.

    The Nolan’s got to know their neighbors when the children were younger and now see them often while walking their dog. They chat about their children, the weather, etc but most often about things that are going on with others on the block. The beginning of the book tells us all about a vacant lot on their block that has seven parking spaces which are highly prized and sought after. There is an obnoxious neighbor, George, who sees himself sort of as the “mayor” of this little group and often writes them little notes about what they should and should not do, regarding the parking spaces, the garbage, etc.

    The pivotal point of the story hits at about the 30% point on my Kindle. One of the neighbors, Jack, gets into a rage about not being able to get out of his parking space because their neighborhood handyman, Ricky, has blocked the way with his truck. What happens after this is quite predictable, and this is all of the action that takes place in this book.

    Neighbors are upset, take sides for or against Jack and the cracks start to appear in all of their lives. This affects our main characters, Nora and Charlie, in a variety of ways. I won’t go into the plot because that would be a spoiler and I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

    Perhaps if I was a New Yorker, or at least a city dweller, I would have understood more of what these characters are about. I’m a suburban dweller and have been for over 40 years, the city was always a great place to visit but I never wanted to live there. Nora’s husband Charlie had been trying to talk Nora into moving out of the city to various places, warmer climate, seaside location, etc, but Nora seems to have a love/hate relationship with New York. I found her tedious, self centered and just not very interesting.

    Ms. Quindlen is obviously a very skilled writer and I know she has a huge following and I’m sure those people will enjoy this book. It just wasn’t for me and I had to force myself to finish it, hoping for a great ending that just didn’t happen.

    I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, thank you.

  • Debra

    Marital Complicity and parking spaces are really the driving forces in this book. Nora and Charlie Nolan appear to have it all. They live on a dead-end street in a very stately home in New York City. On the outside they seem as though they have a good life - if only they could have that prized parking spot! Their children are older and are away at college, Nora and Charlie should be enjoying their time together - but then a violent incident occurs and rocks their tight knit happy little communit

    Marital Complicity and parking spaces are really the driving forces in this book. Nora and Charlie Nolan appear to have it all. They live on a dead-end street in a very stately home in New York City. On the outside they seem as though they have a good life - if only they could have that prized parking spot! Their children are older and are away at college, Nora and Charlie should be enjoying their time together - but then a violent incident occurs and rocks their tight knit happy little community. Which side do you take? What happens when your comfortably uncomfortable life begins to unravel?

    UGH! Is this book well written? Yes, this book is very well written but my problem with this book is the fact that I just didn't care. Yes, they had a dead-end marriage just as they lived on a dead-end street, but I just didn't care that much about them to care about what happens to them. I do get the obsession with the parking spot. I have never lived in New York City, but I live in Los Angeles and know what a pain it can be to not be able to park where you live.

    This is a book about not only the characters but a look at the "elite" and the people who work for them. About life in the city, daily observances on life, about a marriage, about a community, about a woman who seems ambivalent about her life and marriage. Is she happy, is she unhappy, is she angry, is she resigned that this is her life? I found this book to be slow - I am most likely in the minority on this book but it failed to wow me.

    I received a copy of this book from Random House and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    See more of my reviews at

  • Theresa Alan

    3.5 stars. The first twelve percent of this novel drops so many names it’s dizzying. You learn the name of everyone in the neighborhood, including children and dogs. I was keeping notes so I could remember in case anything ever actually happened. MY GOD GET TO THE STORY.

    There is a lot of funny commentary about marriage and the quirks of living in New York City. It turns out that, while eventually there is an inciting incident that pits neighbor against neighbor, really, the real story is about

    3.5 stars. The first twelve percent of this novel drops so many names it’s dizzying. You learn the name of everyone in the neighborhood, including children and dogs. I was keeping notes so I could remember in case anything ever actually happened. MY GOD GET TO THE STORY.

    There is a lot of funny commentary about marriage and the quirks of living in New York City. It turns out that, while eventually there is an inciting incident that pits neighbor against neighbor, really, the real story is about being a New Yorker, race and class, and what it means to be married over the long haul.

    Nora and Charlie Nolan have been married for twenty-five years and have a pretty damn good life living in a dead-end cul de sac where everyone knows everyone. Told from Nora’s perspective, we get funny observations about what it means to be married to a man in his early fifties: “All the men seemed more attentive at dinner parties these days because they needed hearing aids and refused to get them.”

    I loved Quindlen’s book Black and Blue, in part because that had instant tension and this fun thing that I like to call “plot.” She’s obviously a hugely gifted writer, and while eventually I liked this story, it took perseverance.

    Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel, which RELEASES MARCH 20, 2018.

    For more of my reviews, please visit:

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