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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Natow

Review of The Latecomer: A Novel (Audiobook)

Novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz ~ Narration by Julia Whelan

The Latecomer (Celadon Books, 2022 and Macmillan Audio, 2022) is the story of two generations of the wealthy Oppenheimer family, parents Salo and Johanna, triplet children Harrison, Lewyn, and Sally, and of course the "latecomer" -- a fourth child who does not arrive until the end of the first part of the book. The novel follows the various members of the Oppenheimer family through their education, relationships, and misadventures as they navigate their way through a hyper-privileged world. The family's saga is characterized by tragedy and selfishness, with each member seemingly oblivious to how their actions harm the people they claim to care about. Although the plot meanders a bit, the characters are so compelling and the settings (which range from elite educational institutions to New York City art galleries to an extravagant "cottage" on Martha's Vineyard) are so intriguing that the reader will want to see this story through to the end -- and may continue to sit with it for a while after the book's conclusion.

Character development is top-notch in this novel. That said, I did not find any of the main characters particularly likeable, not even the "latecomer" herself, although she is a vast improvement over her older-not-older siblings. In fact, the only two characters I did not find overly problematic were Rochelle and Ephraim -- two relatively minor characters, one of whom does not appear in earnest until near the end of the novel. Nonetheless, I found the Oppenheimer family drama to be the proverbial trainwreck from which I could not look away.

Julia Whelan's audio narration is outstanding -- her performance of each of these quite different characters is authentic and made the audiobook a truly entertaining experience.

Overall rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

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