Gold Coast: The Sopranos Meet Jay Gatsby …Nelson DeMIlle

1990; 637 pages; paperback; available as an e-book for the NOOK and the Kindle ($7.99)

Someone asked me the other day what The Gold Coast was about.  The best I could come up with was The Sopranos meet Gatsby.

I know.  I know.  This isn’t accurate.  Frank Bellarosa is no Jay Gatsby. He’s no Tony Soprano, either.  Maybe it’s just the venue.  Maybe it’s the eternal struggle for power and respectability that money will never buy.  Or maybe I am just stretching because I wanted to include this book in a blog about teaching. (Can you tell I really liked it?)

Whatever.  Nelson DeMille’s first John Sutter novel is worth a summer visit or even revisit.

John Sutter is an attorney busy minding his own business, living the good life on his wife’s family’s Long Island estate. The really good life:  money, horses, yachts, calling cards, prep schools followed by the Ivies for the kids.   Then, the mafia don, Frank Bellarosa, buys the mansion next door and there goes the neighborhood.

This is a story that could easily devolve into clichés. It doesn’t.  John and Susan Sutter are voluntarily sucked into a vortex of glamour, violence and class rebellion that  nothing in their sheltered lives of privilege could have  prepared them to handle.

This book’s days on the NYT’s bestseller list have come and gone, but its appeal as a good summer read is still strong. And then there is the sequel:  The Gate House which fast forwards the story to the spring following 9/11. So, though it’s an oldie, it is so right for decompressing after the rush to June.

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