Two couples lives tangle on a bucolic Hudson Valley estate, revealing class fissures and anxieties about the role of art in an increasingly fractious world. Young artists Thaddeus and Grace buy the place, with its 50 acres and river view, also acquiring Jennings, son of the longtime caretaker, when Thaddeus sells a movie script. The local economy is flagging, and an ugly new concrete plant is polarizing residents, but it may be Thaddeus clumsy largesse that brings long-simmering tensions to a boil. Or perhaps it is Jennings tendency to help himself to unattended valuables, or unhappy spouses? Highly regarded and best-selling Spencer (Man in the Woods, 2010) builds his narrative around a string of parties, occurring over 14 yearsopium barbecues, New York sex-club outings, and various celebrations at the estatebut the mood is more foreboding than festive, as guilt and the complications of wealth shred romance and civility alike. While Spencer remains a perceptive and popular chronicler of complicated relationships, theres a bleakness to this novels insistence that love is weaker than resentment, and artists are powerless against brick-throwers.