Keeping Your Ex in Your Life

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Why Friendship is better than bitterness.

Many people who break up make sure they never have contact with their ex. For them, it's better to erase the past and move on. A highly praised new novel shares several stories of the opposite path.

In Robert J. Hughes's novel, "Late and Soon," several characters insist on trying to stay close to the people they're no longer married to or partnered with -- they feel it's better for them psychologically and emotionally to be in touch. The resulting story is an examination of how to make peace and move on in an all-too-common situation.

"Late and Soon" begins when Claire, a specialist in art at an auction house, runs into the man for whom her husband left her, five years earlier. That man, Toby, tells her that her ex-husband Peter has left him, too. Claire, who has kept in touch with them, is surprised -- and also a little triumphant. After all, Toby must feel what she felt back then, But she realizes that despite the pain of her divorce, even knowing that afterwards Peter and his partner were still in her life was a comfort to her. She also realizes that she must use what she has learned from her abiding kindness, to move on in her life.

Through the novel, each of the characters we encounter comes to a point when he or she makes a leap into the unknown, with the prospect of friendship or the possibility of love. The novel is set in the hubbub of a New York social and cultural scene, moving from museums to the opera to the dramatic floor of an auction house where millions of dollars change hands in seconds. Yet throughout, we are introduced to remarkable characters whose depth of feeling helps illuminate our own feelings about friendship, love, art and life.

As esteemed novelist Edmund White writes, "Robert J. Hughes brings a Jamesian subtlety to thoroughly modern subjects. All the rush and anguish of New York now are dissected with the precision tools of another, keener era."

Robert J. Hughes, who is also a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is intimately familiar with the art market and the cultural world and is available to talk on these and the many other topics that "Late and Soon" explores.


Betsy Steve


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Betsy Steve

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