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Wise Men by Stuart Nadler


Wise Men by Stuart Nadler

Hilton Wise is the son of one of the most powerful and wealthy lawyers in the United States. When he falls for Savannah, a young black girl he meets on Cape Cod during the summer of 1952, he has no idea that his passion for her will lead to the exposure of his father's deepest secrets. The result will shatter his family, and hers. Years later, unable to forget, Hilton abandons his comfortable life on the east coast and sets out to find Savannah. But as he struggles to right the wrongs he set in motion he comes to realize that forgiveness doesn't have a price. Set in the last half of the twentieth century, years that changed America for ever, Wise Men is a sweeping story about love and regret, about the crushing weight of familial obligation, and about the difficulty of doing the right thing in an unjust world.


'It's an absorbing, well-crafted book, with all the story-telling virtues on display. It is atmospheric, thoughtful and mature, with characters whose fate arouses genuine curiosity. It is fiction of great integrity and vast promise.'
Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

'Nadler skillfully creates characters whose failures and faults make them comically, endearingly human'
New Yorker

'Funny and tragic and old-fashioned and brand-spanking new, all at once'
Oprah Magazine

'Stuart Nadler is a great writer'
Time Out

'Wise Men is a brilliantly plotted and carefully observed novel that takes the reader deep inside a powerful family's most guarded secrets. An epic saga about a son's need to atone for the sins of his father and the sins of his own troubled youth. The driving heart of this ambitious novel is an impossible romance: one worth risking an entire outrageous fortune. With wisdom and compassion, Nadler examines the mysteries and manners of unrequited love. Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is a writer of abundant talent and grace.'
Amber Dermont, author of the The Starboard Sea

'I have no doubt that Stuart Nadler is going to be one of our great novelists, and it all starts here, on a dune in Cape Cod, with the Wise men. These characters-knotted together with obligation, guilt, and love-will stay with me always.'
Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont

's Life in Pictures 'Wise Men reads like a classic; it is a completely engrossing novel, one that scars the reader's heart in the most satisfying way. In confident, unpretentious prose, Nadler tackles the complexity of racial tension and fifties mores in a manner reminiscent of Harper Lee and Carson McCullers, and in a smart, misses-nothing style that summons comparisons to Salinger and Cheever. Hilton Wise is a winsome and compelling narrator, one you'll find yourself rooting for days after finishing the book. Nadler's deft rendering of place, namely a secluded compound in coastal Massachusetts, allows the reader to become completely lost in Hilly's world. Wise Men is, at its core, a brutal love story, full of surprise and conviction, insight and deception, staggering wealth and loss, truth and beauty.'
Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

'While Stuart Nadler's ambitious debut novel touches on money, class, race and religion, first and foremost Wise Men is about youth, betrayal and regret. In his idealism and denial, Hilly Wise, the poor little rich boy, is a truly American character, and the perfect narrator for the tale.'
Stewart O

'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Odds 'Stuart Nadler is an elegant writer and a compelling storyteller. Wise Men explores the big questions in life-love and money and race and identity-in a story packed with secrets, longings, and obsessions. It is not a book to be missed.'
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers

'A tense, evocative, page-turning saga of the bruising encounters between two families across the colour line over half a century. Every conversation rings painfully, beautifully true.'
Emma Donoghue, author of Room

About the Author

Stuart Nadler is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. Recently, he was the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in the Atlantic.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th April 2014


Stuart Nadler

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Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan


256 pages
Interest Age: From 18 years


Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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