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The Hazards of Good Breeding

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3.10  ·  Rating details ·  766 ratings  ·  86 reviews
This "richly appointed and generously portrayed" (Kirkus Reviews) debut novel tells the story of a WASPy, old-Boston family coming face to face with an America much larger than the one it was born in. Caroline Dunlap has written off the insular world of the Boston deb parties, golf club luaus, and WASP weddings that she grew up with. But when she reluctantly returns home ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton Company (first published February 28th 2003)
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  766 ratings  ·  86 reviews


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Rebecca
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
God, this book was so boring. So much description about nothing. Rich people are sooo annoying when nothing interesting happens. And nothing interesting happened AT ALL in this book. Daughter comes back to her dad's big house in the country after finishing college at Harvard. She now has no direction. Her father like works all day, but who knows doing what. Her mother lives down in NYC because they are divorced and she is crazy now. Her younger brother lives at the house and even though he is ...more
Kate.
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Like so much in life, this novel's success rests on a single condom. If you make it to the condom (page 170), you're money -- and you'll long remember this book's insight into isolation and social constructs. If you don't make it to the condom, it's over -- because you'll put the book down one day and never pick it up again, because the characters make you tired and the plot just plain puts you to sleep. What this book does best is to depict Jack and Faith, divorcees who are uncovering their ...more
Wendolyn
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I found the characters fascinating. The author's writing insightful. It was not the ending I expected, even though I didn't expect a "happy ending".

The front cover is a bit of a mismatch: the home is on a large lot next to a golf course, not on a residential street. But it does reflect the environment.

Here are the insightful lines I appreciated:

"There has been a house on this spot since 1747, when the first John Forsythe Dunlap turned in his barrister's wig, bought three chickens and two pigs,
...more
Pamk
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another book about a dysfunctional family but this one's saving grace was the beauty of the prose and the great characterizations. It's a story of a marriage that has ended, the mother after suffering a mental breakdown, has left her family and moved to New York, and the rest of the family trying to cope with life. The little boy in this book is so vulnerable and deeply affected by the events that have turned his life upside down, and undertakes a mission to try to locate the son of his ...more
Emi Bevacqua
This story took a while to crescendo, but boy once it got going, it was super well-orchestrated. Dysfunctional Boston Brahmins the Dunlops are headed by introverted father Jack who has alienated the rest of the family - ex-wife Faith is a quivering puddle of recovery in NYC, daughter Caroline is home after college but rather than tending to lost little brother Eliot she is distracted by a dashing cinematographer (who is not what he seems).

I enjoyed how very sordid this puritanical story ended
...more
Lynne
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I'm happy I've discovered another great author. This is the story of the Dunlap family - one week in the lives of Jack (the dad), Faith (the mom - Jack's fragile ex-wife), Caroline (their daughter - new Harvard grad, home for the summer), Eliot (their 10 year old son), and Rock (long-time family friend - in love with Caroline). We get into each of their heads. The story is about the traditions and rituals of a WASP family in Concord, Massachusetts. Really good.
Erica
May 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-reads
This book was just okay. No surprises and the characters were flat.
Sarah
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Odd. And really boring.
Cathryn Conroy
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By turns humorous and heartbreaking, this multilayered book about the decline of Boston blue bloods by Jessica Shattuck is expertly written with keen observation, subtle wit and extraordinary wisdom about the human condition. Most important of all, the writing is absolutely exquisite. Every sentence is perfect. Just perfect!

I loved this book for one simple reason: The colorful characters are so real and so vividly portrayed that they just pop off the page and feel like real people. The plot is a
...more
Bloss ♡
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017, rubbish
This is pretty terrible.

Against my better judgement, I bought this book for $2. I liked Women in the Castle by the same author so, despite the terrible reviews? I chanced it.

Big mistake.

This is an awful, boring, tedious book with vulgar undertones, violence against animals and terrible, unlikeable characters. There is no story, no character development and zero personality. I regret reading it.
Arlene Weible
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Sad little Eliot was the best character.
Carole
Aug 15, 2018 rated it did not like it

I could not stand to read this book. For seven chapters I read every word and waited to connect with the characters and for them to connect with each other, but neither connection happened. Throughout my reading I experienced anxiety which grew and grew. I found myself longing for a climax of any sort, anything to break the tension, anything to confirm or contradict my sense that something terrible was going to happen to at least one of the characters. But there were no climaxes, no resolutions,
...more
Flo
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another interesting novel by Jessica Shattuck. We are introduced to the Dunlop family, totally disfunctional: Jack ignores his children, Eliot, 9 years old, Caroline, early 20's, his twin sons we never meet--they are away at camp--and his ex-wife, Faith, who suffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized for a long time. The maid, Rosita, has been dismissed by Jack after someone remarks on her attractiveness. Eliot has a plan to get her back. A friend of the family, Rock, is a catalyst, showing ...more
Susan
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
I struggled to get through the first half of this book. The characters were not well developed, and the writing jumped around, the transitions were poor. I finished it, mainly because I do not like 'not finishing' a book I have started. There did not seem to be any specific plot with this book, rather, more a documentary of one family's life, and not particularly complete at that. I was disappointed as some of the reviews I had read were quite good. I will admit the ending was not what I had ...more
Caroline
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
-4.5, shouldn’t have liked it (barely a plot, about rich people) but really did for some reason
-story about rich/well connected Boston family who’s parents just got divorced
-at first just connected to daughter Caroline who was 22 and just graduated college
-but in the end wished the story was more about rosita than the dunlaps
-ending was a little too neat
-changed star rating at the last minute when I realized title is about rich families and dogs
Wendy
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
The writing depicted characters that you mocked and sympathized with all at the same time (okay perhaps not all). The storyline around Rosita and the "man of the house" could not have been more evident, and with the crazy midlife mommy in the picture it was not a stretch to open your heart to the idea that people might grow apart and relationships change. The non-forgiving, callous lens of the documentarian made our peeking into this WASPy world seem all the more acceptable.
Jan
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like strange families with issues. All families are somewhat strange and this one doesn't disappoint. The characters are genuine, edgy and there is a mystery that enriches the tension. I found it very engaging.
Eliza
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Incredibly dull. The author has talent and isn’t a bad writer, per se, but the characters aren’t compelling and the plot drags on pointlessly to a weird conclusion. Give this one a miss. (Also, lots of typos. So strange to read a published book and find multiple glaring errors.)
Lynn Nicholas
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I am between liking this book and really liking this book. It was interesting and involving, the characters came to life. It was like watching another family's skeletons come out of their closets.....
Toni Kania
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Extraordinary writing again with story and characters, which are probably better described as caricature and caricatures to better drive home the writer's point. Compelling reading nonetheless.
Sandy
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this book stumbled through the first quarter of narrative. The title must have been chosen as a clue to the climax but I found the pacing a bit off.
Nancy
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure I kept reading this book, except the setting was familiar to me, so that made me curious.
Suzanne Loos specht
Sep 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
I tried reading this book but could never actually get into it. It is actually one of the few books I have found myself unable to finish.
Kathy
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Listened to audiobook.
Lisa Parker
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Meh. Might be even less than "it's okay". Thought I would care about the characters more. Some flashes of lovely writing but they occur so infrequently that I don't feel it is worth the read.
Marie
Apr 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
the dog dies.
Deb
Oct 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Total drivel
Samantha
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, nope
Nope, nope, nope 88 pages in and boring...I tried for 4 weeks and couldn't make myself read it.
Andrea Rodgers
Sep 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Terrible. Boring.
Katie
Jun 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I got halfway through and gave up. Characters are boring; plot is meandering and fairly pointless. I've got to stop trying to read these "unhappy rich people" books.
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Jessica Shattuck is the New York Times Bestselling author of the novels The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among others. She received her MFA from Columbia University. Shattuck now ...more
“She pictures love as a pond to be stepped into, swum around in, and then climbed out of and toweled off before getting too chilly.” 3 likes
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