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The Good Life by Jay McInerney (Knopf hardback). "Charity begins at home," Russell Calloway mutters in Jay McInerney's latest, The Good Life, as he realizes that his wife Corrine is more committed to volunteering near Ground Zero than to comforting her family. A chic New York publisher, Russell is aware he's speaking in clichés, and what's worse, his life has become one. His and Corrine's marriage isn't much happier than when McInerney left them in Brightness Falls, and each has spent years silently resenting their spouse until 9/11 shocks them out of their lethargy. Joined in their domestic discord by über-rich socialites Luke and Sasha McGavock, both couples revolt against the personal and professional compromises that have dulled their superficial lives and struggle to make new connections in their relationships. The result is anything but cliché, as McInerney uses his sad irony and gentle humor to reveal the delicate tragedy of everyday life and the humbling redemption that can be found in truly selfless acts. Kristen Jennings

Sleeping With Schubert by Bonnie Marson (Ballantine paperback). Marson's delightfully imaginative (to put it mildly) debut novel works from the premise that while sitting at a piano in Nordstrom's, Brooklyn lawyer Liza Durbin is suddenly possessed by the spirit of 19th century composer Franz Schubert. What follows is a rise to classical music stardom, ironic takes on family and romantic jealousy, and, surprisingly, an introspective heroine who acquires some needed sophistication. Some critics unfairly described this debut novel as high-concept chick lit, but there's more depth here than can be found in that rapidly deteriorating genre. John Grooms

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