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A Dual Inheritance

Cover of A Dual Inheritance

A Dual Inheritance

A Novel
Borrow Borrow
For readers of Rules of Civility and The Marriage Plot, Joanna Hershon's A Dual Inheritance is an engrossing novel of passion, friendship, betrayal, and class—and their reverberations across generations.

Autumn 1962: Ed Cantowitz and Hugh Shipley meet in their final year at Harvard. Ed is far removed from Hugh's privileged upbringing as a Boston Brahmin, yet his drive and ambition outpace Hugh's ambivalence about his own life. These two young men form an unlikely friendship, bolstered by a fierce shared desire to transcend their circumstances. But in just a few short years, not only do their paths diverge—one rising on Wall Street, the other becoming a kind of global humanitarian—but their friendship ends abruptly, with only one of them understanding why.

Can a friendship define your view of the world? Spanning from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the present-day stock market collapse, with locations as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen, and Fishers Island, A Dual Inheritance asks this question, as it follows not only these two men, but the complicated women in their vastly different lives. And as Ed and Hugh grow farther and farther apart, they remain uniquely—even surprisingly—connected.

Praise for A Dual Inheritance

"A big, captivating sweep of a romance . . . a searching exploration of class and destiny in late-twentieth-century America."—Jennifer Egan
"The best book about male friendship written this young century."Details

"[A] warm, smart, enjoyably complex novel . . . Both Hugh and Ed are lonely searchers . . . and [Hershon's] skill in rendering each of them as flawed individuals is what makes the novel so readable and so rich. . . . A Dual Inheritance is an old-fashioned social novel that feels fresh because of its deft, clear-eyed approach to still-unspoken rules about ethnicity, money and identity."San Francisco Chronicle

"An absorbing, fully-realized novel . . . [Hershon] renders the book's many locales with a nuanced appreciation for the way environment emerges out of the confluence of physical detail and social experience. . . . A Dual Inheritance never lets its readers forget they are reading a well-crafted novel, and as a well-crafted novel, it fully satisfies."The Boston Globe
"This marvelous novel is a mix of heartache and history. . . . Think of Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe, both."—Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
"[An] engrossing saga."Vogue

"Hershon artfully guides us through the lives of Ed and Hugh, college buddies who meet at Harvard in the '60s, shifting between their perspectives through adulthood to detail their lingering impact on one another's lives in such a way that it'll make you take a second look at all of your relationships."GQ

"Let this story of two Harvard men's unexpected friendship and its sudden end transport you through time (beginning on Harvard's campus in 1962) and place."The Huffington Post

"A richly composed . . . portrait of familial gravity and the wobbly orbits that bring us together again and again."Kirkus Reviews

"This thought-provoking generational tale is a heartfelt and beautiful story of an unlikely friendship that fades at times, but never seems to go away."Long Island Press
From the Hardcover edition.
For readers of Rules of Civility and The Marriage Plot, Joanna Hershon's A Dual Inheritance is an engrossing novel of passion, friendship, betrayal, and class—and their reverberations across generations.

Autumn 1962: Ed Cantowitz and Hugh Shipley meet in their final year at Harvard. Ed is far removed from Hugh's privileged upbringing as a Boston Brahmin, yet his drive and ambition outpace Hugh's ambivalence about his own life. These two young men form an unlikely friendship, bolstered by a fierce shared desire to transcend their circumstances. But in just a few short years, not only do their paths diverge—one rising on Wall Street, the other becoming a kind of global humanitarian—but their friendship ends abruptly, with only one of them understanding why.

Can a friendship define your view of the world? Spanning from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the present-day stock market collapse, with locations as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen, and Fishers Island, A Dual Inheritance asks this question, as it follows not only these two men, but the complicated women in their vastly different lives. And as Ed and Hugh grow farther and farther apart, they remain uniquely—even surprisingly—connected.

Praise for A Dual Inheritance

"A big, captivating sweep of a romance . . . a searching exploration of class and destiny in late-twentieth-century America."—Jennifer Egan
"The best book about male friendship written this young century."Details

"[A] warm, smart, enjoyably complex novel . . . Both Hugh and Ed are lonely searchers . . . and [Hershon's] skill in rendering each of them as flawed individuals is what makes the novel so readable and so rich. . . . A Dual Inheritance is an old-fashioned social novel that feels fresh because of its deft, clear-eyed approach to still-unspoken rules about ethnicity, money and identity."San Francisco Chronicle

"An absorbing, fully-realized novel . . . [Hershon] renders the book's many locales with a nuanced appreciation for the way environment emerges out of the confluence of physical detail and social experience. . . . A Dual Inheritance never lets its readers forget they are reading a well-crafted novel, and as a well-crafted novel, it fully satisfies."The Boston Globe
"This marvelous novel is a mix of heartache and history. . . . Think of Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe, both."—Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
"[An] engrossing saga."Vogue

"Hershon artfully guides us through the lives of Ed and Hugh, college buddies who meet at Harvard in the '60s, shifting between their perspectives through adulthood to detail their lingering impact on one another's lives in such a way that it'll make you take a second look at all of your relationships."GQ

"Let this story of two Harvard men's unexpected friendship and its sudden end transport you through time (beginning on Harvard's campus in 1962) and place."The Huffington Post

"A richly composed . . . portrait of familial gravity and the wobbly orbits that bring us together again and again."Kirkus Reviews

"This thought-provoking generational tale is a heartfelt and beautiful story of an unlikely friendship that fades at times, but never seems to go away."Long Island Press
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Chapter One

    Fall

    Had he described Hugh Shipley at all over the past three years, approachable would not have been a word he'd ever have used. But one warm autumn night during his senior year, Ed Cantowitz found himself grabbing Hugh Shipley's arm in front of Lamont Library the way he might otherwise grab a Budweiser at Cronin's. They were not friends; they'd spoken only in passing this year, and mostly after the Shakespeare seminar in which they were both enrolled, but Ed Cantowitz was not thinking of how Hugh Shipley might find him ­off-­putting or offensive, because, as usual, Ed Cantowitz was thinking about himself.

    "Keep walking," muttered Ed, and ­that's what Hugh Shipley did. He walked as if he ­hadn't even noticed the interruption, ­didn't so much as slow the trajectory of his cigarette from hand to mouth. Ed watched the cigarette and the dry fallen leaves on the ­ground—­anything not to turn around and stare at the girl. "Do me a favor and keep walking and don't turn around. Do yourself a favor and just look straight ahead."

    Shipley nodded. "Might want to take your hand off my arm," and Ed released his grip before offering a crazed smile as an afterthought, if not an apology. He knew he had a menacing voice, not to mention truly dark stubble (he'd forgone his ­much-­needed second shave of the day), and his husky voice and bulldog build lent him not only an unsavory but even vaguely criminal air. Ed usually alternated between being pleased by these qualities and ashamed, but at the moment he was so focused he ­didn't care what Shipley thought. The two young men walked down steps and past a stand of pine trees, kicking crabapples out of their path, and Ed talked. "This girl," he said, and Shipley nodded again. Ed ­didn't sound embarrassed, because he ­wasn't embarrassed. This, he believed, is what men did for one another, all kinds of men, he ­didn't care who; in the face of beautiful women, men were allied soldiers, at least until proven otherwise. "I can't stop staring at this girl, but I'm under no illusions that I don't need strategy. You? You don't know a thing about strategy, am I right? Because you don't need it. I need ­strategy—­and make no mistake about it, strategy does ­work—­but when I held open the door for that girl just ­then, I knew if I let myself do something about her, it would have been the wrong thing. I needed to save myself from myself, as they say. Listen, can you tell me if she's still there behind us? Petite girl, big ­eyes—­she's actually kind of ­cross-­eyed—­really ­really ­really nice knockers?"

    Hugh Shipley looked slyly right behind them. He reported that he no longer saw the girl. ­"Hadn't noticed she was ­cross-­eyed."

    "Slightly," said Ed, stopping suddenly, short of breath. "Only if you look closely."

    "Well," said Hugh, "glad to help." He sounded sincere, but Ed knew he might have missed the sarcastic edge. It ­wouldn't have been the first time. Ed was not a ­nerd—­no, ­sir—­but at this point in his college career, he had to acknowledge that he ­was—­to put it ­kindly—­an outsider. Being at ease around groups of other ­people—­especially ­lighthearted other ­people—­was not his strong suit.

    He'd barely spoken to Shipley in the three years they'd been classmates; they'd had no reason to speak. Ed was on scholarship and was a rigorous and nakedly ambitious student with a government concentration and a gift for statistics. He was preparing to write his...
About the Author-
  • Joanna Hershon is the author of The German Bride, The Outside of August, and Swimming. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and from the Edward Albee Foundation. An adjunct professor at Columbia, where she teaches creative writing, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the painter Derek Buckner, and their twin sons.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 11, 2013
    Two college chums—one an ambitious Jew, the other a privileged, guilt-burdened WASP—who first meet in 1963 as Harvard seniors find their lives separating and intersecting around the same woman over many years, in Hershon’s searing novel about class, ethnicity, and love (both platonic and romantic). Ed Cantrowitz is straight out of Dorchester, Mass., abrasive but winningly forthright; Hugh Shipley, heir to a valued name but decayed fortune, is deeply ambivalent about both his old-money connections and his own obvious charm; and Helen, Hugh’s high school sweetheart, all forge a connection that defies conventional wisdom. Even though their intimacy comes to a nominal end early in their lives, for reasons known only to Helen and Ed, the impact of this connection echoes through decades, as each goes his or her separate way, living life, raising families, working in Africa, Haiti, or Wall Street, and, in one case, going to prison. The intensely detailed love triangle is reminiscent of an East Coast elite answer to the Midwestern trio of Freedom, but with mere keen observation in place of that other novel’s sweeping moral pronouncements. Hershon (The German Bride) explores the ways we can, and can’t, escape our backgrounds. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman, WME Entertainment.

  • Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize--winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

    "A Dual Inheritance is a big, captivating, multigenerational sweep of a romance, ranging from Africa to China to New England's blue-blooded enclaves. With deftness and swagger, Joanna Hershon spins the intertwining of two Harvard men's lives into a searching exploration of class and destiny in late-twentieth-century America."

  • Details
    "The best book about male friendship written this young century."
  • The Boston Globe "[A] warm, smart, enjoyably complex novel . . . Both Hugh and Ed are lonely searchers . . . and [Hershon's] skill in rendering each of them as flawed individuals is what makes the novel so readable and so rich. . . . A Dual Inheritance is an old-fashioned social novel that feels fresh because of its deft, clear-eyed approach to still-unspoken rules about ethnicity, money and identity."--San Francisco Chronicle

    "An absorbing, fully-realized novel . . . [Hershon] renders the book's many locales with a nuanced appreciation for the way environment emerges out of the confluence of physical detail and social experience. . . . A Dual Inheritance never lets its readers forget they are reading a well-crafted novel, and as a well-crafted novel, it fully satisfies."
  • Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver "Simultaneously a riveting story of two very different families and a portrait of the United States through the boom and bust decades . . . Think of Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe, both. This marvelous novel is a mix of heartache and history. I just couldn't stop reading, and when it was over I felt sad the experience had ended."
  • GQ
    "[An] engrossing saga."--Vogue

    "Hershon artfully guides us through the lives of Ed and Hugh, college buddies who meet at Harvard in the '60s, shifting between their perspectives through adulthood to detail their lingering impact on one another's lives in such a way that it'll make you take a second look at all of your relationships."
  • The Huffington Post
    "Let this story of two Harvard men's unexpected friendship and its sudden end transport you through time (beginning on Harvard's campus in 1962) and place."
  • Long Island Press "A richly composed . . . portrait of familial gravity and the wobbly orbits that bring us together again and again."--Kirkus Reviews

    "This thought-provoking generational tale is a heartfelt and beautiful story of an unlikely friendship that fades at times, but never seems to go away."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Sharply observed and masterfully constructed, Hershon's fourth novel is her strongest yet, a deft and assured examination of ambition, envy, longing, and kinship."--Booklist (starred review)

    "Hershon deftly explores how individuals often sabotage their chances for happiness. . . . The characters in this novel are fully realized, the story moves along at a fast pace, and the author is well informed about her subject. Highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

    "[A] searing novel about class, ethnicity, and love . . . The intensely detailed love triangle is reminiscent of an East Coast elite answer to the Midwestern trio of Freedom, but with mere keen observation in place of that other novel's sweeping moral pronouncements. Hershon explores the ways we can, and can't, escape our backgrounds."
  • Jennifer Gilmore, author of The Mothers "Joanna Hershon has written a vivid, elegant novel that deftly roams the decades and the globe in telling a story about friendship, family, and the murky area in between. A Dual Inheritance is a rich and satisfying read."--Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements

    "Joanna Hershon is further evidence of a pleasing trend set off by Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot: big books about American politics, social customs, and family dynamics that seek to update and relocate the brilliantly compelling English nineteenth-century novel. I envy and admire Hershon's ability to so convincingly display the complex intimacies of multigenerational love and friendship. T
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A Novel
Joanna Hershon
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