The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson © 2014, Little, Brown

Mid-life crisis book. Anders Hill, disillusioned with his lucrative, rat race existence as a real estate investor, divorces his wife, Helene, quits his job, and becomes a drifting outsider to his circle of rich Connecticut friends. Charlie Ashby, the son of one couple in Anders’ circle, takes a shine to the now free-spirited Anders, a relationship that will not end well.

Anders’ own son, Preston, is a drifting drug dealer, having rejected his parents’ uptight, well-to-do lifestyle. Will Preston become another Charlie Ashby, or will Anders help his son find something to live for? This seemed to be main story, along the theme that following your heart is best, no matter how it hurts those around you.

Besides the Anders-Charlie subplot, there were other story lines going on, like Anders’ relationship with his former college roommate, Donny, who takes up with Helene after Anders divorces her. See, Helene and Donny were an item back in college until Anders stole her from him. This bit of intertwining didn’t have much to do with the overall plot except to save Anders from defaulting on a mortgage. Then there was Anders’ relationship with his overbearing father. Teen-aged Anders ran away from home to escape his father’s uptight, well-to-do lifestyle (ah, just like Preston), only to end up decades later as uptight, well-to-do, and steady as the old man. Mid-life crisis, here we come! This was a deeper, more interesting subplot I wish there had been more of.

Habits had a number of nice story threads and probably could have used a few less. It made it hard to focus on a particular subplot and ultimately care a great deal about how a particular thread would end up. But Thompson did a good job of casting a man who followed the wrong path and paid the price for it. He thankfully refrained from making Anders a hero.

So, Habits is a collection of enjoyable little dramas without a single really engrossing story line. A pleasant enough read to remain on my shelf.


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