Union Atlantic, By Adam Haslett

This land dispute needs tighter border controls

Much as I admired Adam Haslett's novel – about a war-veteran-turned-investment banker, Doug Fanning, and his conflict with a retired socialist historian, Charlotte Graves, over the land Doug has chosen to build his garish new mansion on – I couldn't help wondering how it might have turned out in the hands of say, the late Carol Shields or Alice Munro.

Doug is on the brink of financial disaster and criminal indictment, he just doesn't know it yet; Charlotte is a lonely old spinster who once had a great love. Their battle is a microcosm of what is going on in the world, but their tale lacks emotional punch, suggesting that Haslett had a bit too much of the wider picture in his mind to concentrate on the small stuff.

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