Read an excerpt from the first chapter of Abbi Waxman’s new suburban satire, Other People’s Houses, which unravels the hilarious havoc an affair wreaks on an upper-middle-class LA neighborhood.
Looking for a fun read to sink your teeth into?
Other People’s Houses is a hilarious new novel about a suburban neighborhood and the affair that unravels their community.
Told through the perspectives of four families, the novel shows how the affair exposes all sorts of insecurities and strife within an upper-middle-class LA neighborhood. So far, it’s gotten some rave reviews with PopSugar calling it “A smart, thoughtful look at marriage and suburbia” and Booklist saying that “Once again, [Waxman] manages to take a far-reaching topic and sprinkle it with spicy dialogue, adorable kids, and characters who feel like best friends. . . Recommend to those who like to turn pages quickly without sacrificing complex characters.”
Possibly the most attention-grabbing review for me though came from Kirkus: “Charming yet provocative. . . . This is a voyeuristic (in a nice way) and humorous trip through what is usually hidden behind closed doors. Waxman is a master at purveying the wry humor that rides just below the surface of even the tough times.”
Sign. me. up.
I’m super excited to be able to give you a sneak peek at an excerpt from the first chapter of Other People’s Houses! Check it out below.
Frances pulled into the elementary school lot and Ava got out, sighing as if she were a fourteen-year-old Victorian child disembarking for her day down the mine. She pulled open the door and swung her arm wide.
“Medium-size children may now escape. Mind the gap, and watch out for speeding moms on cell phones.”
The children had already unbuckled and piled out, high-fiving Ava as they passed her. Kate stopped, and Frances turned to see what was up. The little girl’s face was a study in conflict.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
Kate looked at Frances, and her chin wobbled.
“I left my toilet roll tubes at home.”
“Oh.” Frances looked at her eldest child. Ava shrugged, looking back inside the open minivan.
“They aren’t in the car.”
“Oh, OK.” Frances smiled at Kate. “I’m sure the teacher will have lots of extras.” She herself had, over time, sent in three thousand toilet roll tubes. For all she knew they were building a particle collider out of them, or an accurate re-creation of the New York subway system. Let’s hope they didn’t use the obvious choice for subway trains.
“No, I have to have my own ones.” Kate’s eyes were filling with tears, her shit-fit indicator was dropping to DEFCON 3. “It’s for the class project. Everyone else will have them.”
Frances weighed her options. On the one hand Kate was only six, and would not only survive but would forget the trauma of not having had toilet roll tubes. But on the other hand, she was a member of the Yakuza-esque organization known as Miss Lollio’s First Grade Class, whose members fell on the weakest like wolves on a lamb. Forgetting to bring toilet roll tubes and having to borrow some was a Noticeable Event to be avoided at all costs. It wasn’t on the level of peeing oneself, of course, it wasn’t going to give rise to a nickname you couldn’t shake until college, but it wasn’t great.
“My mommy put them in a bag, but she forgot to give them to me.” A note of accusatory steel had entered her voice. Frances gazed at the little angel, whose mother had been heard calling her Butterblossom. Kate’s eyes had gone flat like a shark’s. She knew she would get what she wanted, the only question was when. I am younger than you, old lady, her eyes said, and I will stand here until age makes you infirm, at which time I will push you down, crunch over your brittle bones, and get the toilet roll tubes I need.
“Alright, Kate. I’ll go back and get them after I drop Ava, OK, and bring them back to school for you.” Frances knew she was being played, but it was OK. She was softhearted, and she could live with that.
“Suckah . . .” Ava headed back to her seat, shaking her head over her mother’s weakness, a weakness she loved to take advantage of herself.
“Thanks, Frances!” Kate beamed an enormous smile, turned, and ran off—the transformation from tremulous waif to bouncy cherub instantaneous. Behind her in the line of cars, someone tapped their horn. OK, the brief honk said, we waited while you dealt with whatever mini crisis was caused by your piss-poor parenting, because we’re nice like that, but now you can get a move on because we, like everyone else in this line, have Shit to Do. Amazing how much a second of blaring horn can communicate.
Frances waved an apologetic hand out of the car window, and pulled out of the gate.
She dropped the other kids and was back at Anne’s house in a half hour. Having carpool duty wasn’t the onerous task the other parents thought it was: All three schools were close to home, and all four families lived on the same block. As Frances ran up to Anne’s door she looked over and saw her own cat, Carlton, watching her. She waved. He blinked and looked away, embarrassed for both of them.
She knocked softly on the door, but no one answered. Maybe Anne had gone back to sleep. She turned the handle and pushed open the door, peering around. Yup, there was the bag of toilet roll tubes. She grabbed it and was about to shut the door again when she saw Anne lying on the floor, her face turned away, her long hair spilling across the rug.
“Anne! Holy crap, are you OK?” But as she said it her brain started processing what she was really seeing. Anne, on the floor, check. But now she’d turned her head and Frances realized she was fine. In fact, she was better than fine. Frances had instinctively stepped over the sill and now she saw that Anne was naked, her face flushed, a man between her legs, his head below her waist.
“Shit . . .” Frances dropped her eyes, began to back out, “Sorry, Anne, Kate forgot her toilet roll tubes . . .” Stupidly she raised her hand with the Whole Foods bag in it because, of course, that would make it better, that she’d interrupted Anne and Charlie having a quickie on the living room floor. It was OK, because she was just here for the toilet roll tubes. Nothing to see here, move along.
The man realized something was wrong, finally, and raised his head, looking first at Anne and then turning to see what she was looking at, why her face was so pale when seconds before it had been so warmly flushed.
Frances was nearly through the door, it was closing fast, but not before she saw that it wasn’t Charlie at all. It was someone else entirely.
Awkward! Seriously though, I’m intrigued to read the ways Abbi Waxman has this encounter and the affair affect the lives of the other characters in the story. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. It sounds like the sort of book you could finish in a night—if, you know, you stay up way past your bedtime.
Want to win a copy of Other People’s Houses?
Penguin Random House has offered to give one lucky Cuddles & Chaos reader (and US resident) a copy of the brand new book! The giveaway is open today through Friday, April 6, 2018. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!
Looking for more books for grown-ups? Check these posts out:
- My What We Read series lays out all of the books my family has read over the course of a month
- Discussion questions from our virtual book club. (I no longer post the questions on the blog, but you can join the Paperback Posse here)
- Check out my bookstore for some of my favorite picks for the whole family.