Read Ménage by Alix Kates Shulman Online


Heather and Mack McKay seem to have it all: wealth, a dream house in the suburbs, and two adorable children along with the nannies to raise them. But their marriage has lost its savor: she is a frustrated writer and he longs for a cultural trophy to hang on his belt.   During a chance encounter in LA, Mack invites exiled writer Zoltan Barbu—once lionized as a political herHeather and Mack McKay seem to have it all: wealth, a dream house in the suburbs, and two adorable children along with the nannies to raise them. But their marriage has lost its savor: she is a frustrated writer and he longs for a cultural trophy to hang on his belt.   During a chance encounter in LA, Mack invites exiled writer Zoltan Barbu—once lionized as a political hero, now becoming a has-been—to live with him and his wife in their luxurious home. The plan should provide Heather with literary companionship, Mack with cultural cachet, and Zoltan himself with a pastoral environment in which to overcome his writer’s block and produce a masterpiece.    Of course, as happens with triangles, complications arise—some hilarious, some sad—as the three players pursue a game that leads to shifting alliances and sexual misadventures. Shulman pokes fun at our modern malaise (why is having it all never enough?), even as she traces the ever-changing dynamics within a marriage. Ménage is a bravura performance from one of America’s most renowned feminist writers....

Title : Ménage
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781590515204
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ménage Reviews

  • Tami
    2019-04-13 16:17

    Premise: Rising-star green architect Mack meets renowned author Zoltar at the funeral of woman they both found hot, but that only Zoltan was having actually sex with. Mack's wife, Heather, who believes and is never contradicted in her belief that Mack was having sex with the now dead hot woman, will be impressed that Mack met Zoltan! It turns out, Zoltan needs a patron (yes, a patron) so Mack decides to bring Zoltan home so he can live and work in Mack's fabulous green home. Kind of as a present (yes, a present) for Heather, who herself wishes to be a renowned author and could use the inspiration that having Zoltan around would presumably ignite.Seriously. That's the premise.This book so disappointed me. I truly went into it expecting to love it, but right from the beginning I realized how awful these characters are. I don't personally know anyone as self-serving as the individuals in this trio, and I suppose I should be grateful. This is sort of a spoiler: Mack, Heather, and Zoltan love themselves too much to actually get it on with each other. I give the book 2 stars only because a few sentences actually made me pause and think. Maybe two of them, but still.

  • Bessie James
    2019-03-28 10:19

    Well, if you're looking for a sexy book, this surely isn't it, despite the title. However, it is a very finely crafted triple character study. Shulman is a superb writer, she inhabits her characters without being overly judgemental. She lets their words and actions lie on the page and you absorb their personalities. Quite a magnificent achievement when you consider that all three major characters are rather reprehensible (but strangely understandable due to the author's skill).I would recommend this for anyone wanting a serious, concise read that will probably stick with you for a long time.

  • Lorri Steinbacher
    2019-04-05 12:28

    Must be freaky book week for me. I could not understand not one of these characters, even though Shulman explained them completely to me. I think she created three interesting characters, I just couldn't understand what each got out of the other. Bored rich people playing mind games with a delusional semi-sociopath. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

  • Sherman Waites
    2019-04-21 13:34

    Thought the book was not what it seemed. I thought the characters would have a more interesting complex story but the whole book just fell flat

  • Angela
    2019-04-01 16:34

    Um... what was the point of this book? Painful writing, bad dialogue, and no plot.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-04 11:34

    ​This a ludicrous story under the guise of literary fiction. None of the characters, nor their motivations, was believable in the least. As someone else wrote, what was the point of this book?

  • Beth Shorten
    2019-04-08 12:39


  • Kate
    2019-03-27 10:33

    See my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor...Ménage by Alix Kates Shulman is the story of a love triangle – with four participants.Heather is married to Mack.“After their big Kansas wedding, the McKays had returned to Manhattan… Full of plans, they had set out to create for themselves a certain kind of ideal urban marriage modeled on images of New York life they’d read about or viewed, they couldn’t have said exactly where. Each week they scanned the reviews in the Times and the cultural listings in the New Yorker and New York Magazine before buying tickets to enticing events…They had taken busses and taxis, learning the differences between Szechuan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong cuisine…. until Mack began his rise and Heather became pregnant with Chloe. Then they had moved.”Mack is friends with Maja. But is it more? Heather’s not sure.Zolton and Maja are lovers.Maja kills herself.Zolton and Mack meet at Maja’s funeral.Mack becomes Zolton’s ‘benefactor’.“She couldn’t tell anymore whose side Mack was on. He claimed to be her ally and champion, but when it came to Zoltan, there was some inscrutable connection between them that made all sometimes feel more like adversary. Had it been forged over Maja’s body or was it a fallback to primitive male bonding? Whatever it was, she sometimes felt trapped in a buddy movie.”Heather cracks on to Zolton. But does he take her up on her advances?“A ticklish situation. She was a devilishly attractive woman…. All the while she lay there speaking innocuous pleasantries, she was rhythmically tapping one arched lean foot against the other in a way he thought calculated to arouse him. Or was that simply the way of these Americans, these Daisy Maes and Daisy Millers? They routinely objected to being valued for their sex yet shamelessly put themselves forward.”The stage for this drama is a luxurious house, designed and built by Heather and Mack in the countryside outside of New York (too many mentions of animals, apple orchards and winding driveways to be considered the suburbs).What’s to like about this story: - dark, moody, exiled writer Zoltan plonked in the middle of Heather’s Martha-Stewart-world makes you think something very, very bad is about to happen. - Mack – trustworthy or not? The character keeps you guessing until the end. - There is some lovely writing – “Heather, whose solitary morning hours had so recently been tranquil working interludes in her child-ruffled days….”What I wasn’t a huge fan of: - I wasn’t entirely convinced of the motivation of Mack and Heather. Zolton, yes, but it’s easy to create a self-absorbed artiste as a character. - Shulman hinted around the edges of Heather and Mack’s social climbing – I wish she’d dissected it a little further, exposed them a little more.2/5 I think I spent more time imagining the McKay’s amazing home than focused on the characters and what they were doing, which is probably not right given that the novel supposedly examines the “modern malaise (why is having it all never enough?)”.

  • Amy
    2019-04-16 14:24

    I read Menage as a Netgalley Advanced Reader Copy, and I’m not sure exactly what to rate it. It’s a book that left me sort of wondering… wondering why the characters acted as they did, why the author wrote this particular story, and why I read it at all. Menage focuses on a wealthy husband and wife; he’s often away on business and seems to have frequent affairs while she stays home with the children in their lavish home, feeling alone and away from the things that she thought she wanted—the life of a writer in NYC. The husband, well-meaning, brings up a once-famous exiled writer to stay with them—a sort of writer’s retreat for him and a gift to his “wanna-be” writer wife. The wife spends most of the novel trying to seduce the houseguest, while he spends his time trying to avoid her and pretend to write—something he’s been unable to do because of all the “potentially dangerous situations” (i.e. women) who get in his way. While Shulman sets up an interesting triangle here between her characters, the tension never fully developed between any of the characters. The husband and wife have a reasonably good relationship even though neither is apparently satisfied in their marriage. The husband and writer seem to be respectful of each other—a the husband’s role bordering somewhere between patron and friend. The children are practically nonexistent. And the wife just seems lost. Since none of the characters seem to be developed fully, it’s hard to imagine them finding fulfillment in the triangle relationship either. This book was certainly a “high-brow” piece of fiction with focus on intellectual ideas like socio-economic class and politics, but the themes of identity and perhaps even maturation needed more work for me to appreciate these characters and their unusual circumstances.

  • Kiera
    2019-04-10 16:12

    This book was definitely not what I expected. The reviews made it seemed like an account of an impassioned loved triangle when in reality the triangle never really exists between who you expect it to and often you question if it exists at all. It's definitely a page turner though! I had a hard time putting it down. Zoltan Barbu is intended to be the main character who wreaks havoc on everyone else's lives especially Heather McKay who is another important character. To me however the real star of the book is Mack McKay. The real estate developer who is succeeding in an economic downturn, the plot line does not exist without Mack's masterful and sometimes underhanded workings. From his first encounter with Zoltan to the very last chapter it is clear that Mack has always been running the show whether anyone else knew it or not, especially his wife. I wish there had been more action or perhaps I should say a better climax in the plot line. I enjoyed the book overall and would recommend it!

  • Gabriela
    2019-04-09 13:13

    Though it is named Ménage, which straightforwardly translates to members of a household and ménage à trois means a romantic arrangement between three people occupying the same household, I was left waiting for the impassioned, even complicated affair between Zoltan and Heather. After all, this was the most plausible suggestion in my mind. Maybe that was the point after all. Not necessarily a sexual relationship but a domestic arrangement. I'm throwing rocks at a wall that won't crumble but my point is, misleading title. Yet my review is not affected by this. Though the love triangle is nonexistent, it did not discourage me to stop reading because this is not where it fell short for me. What I needed was for Shulman to expose and exploit these cardboard characters for me. I needed more in order to reach their core. Nevertheless, Ménage gets a 2/5 because just as peculiar as the characters, I enjoyed Shulman's writing.

  • Sharon
    2019-03-31 10:12

    I loved this book at the beginning and wasn't sure how I felt by the end. It's dry and funny, and also sad, both in a bored elite middle class Connecticut way - think Richard Yates meets The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I do really admire how the author shifts seamlessly from one character's perspective to the next without relying upon chapter breaks to signal the reader, and without alienating us from either character. Despite my ambivalence, I think this one might stick with me for a while, as the end left me feeling a little unsettled and grimy somehow. May get a re-read in ten years.

  • Steven Allen
    2019-03-29 14:11

    This was a quick, disappointing read. Now granted, I usually do not go for chick lit, but this one sounded interesting. I just could not give two shits about any of the main three characters in this book. Three self-serving and self-loving people who are far too concerned with their own success and greatness to actually care for someone else. I actually felt more empathy for the poor dead actress that commits suicide in the beginning of the book than I did for the three main characters. This is not a sexy book that will titillate you, so if you are looking for that - skip this book. Yes, there is some sex, but it is written and described in minimal detail and about as exciting as watching your parents screw. If you are looking for a book about three conniving, self-serving, narcissistic people - you might give this book a read.

  • Kim
    2019-04-21 17:11

    I enjoyed this book very much. A rich bored couple brings home a vapid starving artist in order to amuse themselves. Like a stray dog, the artist sometimes charms them, and sometimes behaves badly. The artist feels completely entitled to their patronage. They feel completely entitled to his loyalty and devotion. Nobody wastes any energy on remorse or taking responsibility. Who is right, or rather who is least wrong? How can married people stand by each other without question when they don't have all the facts? There are no answers, but the questions are great.

  • Renee
    2019-03-31 16:13

    Interesting quick read about a progressive? marriage or something like it, in which a wealthy husband and wife take in a celebrated Eastern European expat writer in the hopes that they will "learn how to live". The relationships in the book are so off the wall, but I found it pretty fascinating that they could be so blase about their infidelities (or lack thereof). Complex, really rich writing, and crazy bored over-educated rich people...what's not to like?

  • Barbara
    2019-03-31 11:36

    Wealthy East Coast building developer invites down-on-his-luck aging author to live in the palatial home that belongs to the wealthy man and his struggling author wife. All 3 people have expectations about how the living arrangement will work out. Results are VERY different from the expectations. Lesson for me - careful what you wish for.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-18 15:17

    I was interested in this because Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen was a book I found on my mother's shelves back in the day. It is considered a feminist classic. I was a little young when I read it and it seemed remarkably frank. Sadly, Menage is a terrible book with wealthy bored characters - who cares! Dated and sexist as well. Ick.

  • K2 -----
    2019-04-03 16:23

    Not an earth shattering read but definitely entertaining. It is a tense look at an unhappy marriage and how a couple brings in another person to liven up what has become dull for them both. Shulman is a talented writer and tells the inner-frustrations of marriage, stay-at-home moms, lauded absent husband/fathers, and writers who are displaced.

  • Olga
    2019-04-21 13:34

    Mildly amusing, not truly original. Vague reminiscences of "Down and Out in Beverly Hills", only with a lot less bite. Yet another smug very mild satire of the affluent classes. The center character might be a modern-day take on Rasputin, but not as dangerous. Svengali with less hypnotic power. Cute but no more.

  • McArthur Library Staff Picks
    2019-03-30 12:26

    Interesting and fast read about a modern(?) marriage -- mainly a well to do couple who takes in a famous and exoctic Eastern European author in the hope that he will make their lives 'meaningful'. Cerebral and literary, yet fascinating in that the pair are happy within their marital cocoon, however imperfect. Weird but good!

  • Dawn
    2019-03-25 12:13

    I read it all because I kept thinking something was going to happen. After I finished I'm still not sure what the motivation of the husband was, and certainly I am not sure that he met his objectives...though he says he did. Still, it was an interesting read, and it kept my attention. I just didn't get it.

  • Mickeymu
    2019-04-05 11:27

    I am really unsure who the protagonist was in this novel. The three main characters engage in dialogue and behavior that is frankly, unbelievable, but perhaps the worst is Heather McKay. I don't remember saying aloud, "You're kidding me," as many times as I did in this book. Obviously Shulman has a good agent and track record, but on this one, don't bother.

  • Theresa
    2019-03-31 12:10

    The only good part was the characters names: Heather & Zoltan (I know a couple with the same names and when Heather wondered if Zoltan had a hairy chest in the book I died laughing because the Zoltan I know has a thick hairy chest).

  • Du
    2019-04-20 09:25

    2.5 stars: A storyline that was easy to follow, but very simplistic in nature. The ending was a disappointment though, I expected the "arrogant bitch" to have her payback. What a spoiled, cunming, woman she was!

  • Larissa
    2019-04-12 16:17

    I give this a 3.5. A page-turner filled with quirky characters. I would have liked more depth. The writing is good, a little better than passable. I would put this book in the category of easy read, good for a plane, a light book that keeps moving.

  • Anne Marie
    2019-04-11 17:18

    She is obviously a good writer and the story moves along well and is funny and sad at the same time. I'm sure it was written with her tongue in her cheek, the problem is that you just don't care about these narcissistic shallow characters.

  • CRM
    2019-03-27 16:26

    This would have been better as a short story. So many stabs at being a "literary" novel but fell short for me.

  • Laura Rizza
    2019-04-09 11:10

    It was a little bit boring and drawn out. There was a good story there, but you had to search for it.

  • Rachael
    2019-03-29 14:21

    A quick, enjoyable read. The characters, however, read as shallow archetypes. I wish this book had surprised me more, but once the drama was set, the twists and turns were rather expected

  • Maree Cox-Baker
    2019-04-05 11:15

    Just OK. It could have done a better of job of building suspension.