A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon is a big book. At first it appears to be a rather simple story of two unlikely friends during their university years, but as the story proceeds it grows into much more. It spans two generations of two families and deals primarily with issues of money: how to get it and if you have it how it determines your life path. The perspective on money is quite unusual. For those who have it in spades it is almost seen as a limiting factor. The moneyed are expected to go to certain schools, have certain interests and work in certain fields, such as law, finance or medicine. But what happens when one steps outside of these prescribed roles?
However, A Dual Inheritance is more than just a university novel, a good chunk of it is set in for away places. In addition to good old America, parts of the narrative are set in Africa and Haiti. I am a sucker for stories about people in foreign places so this really appealed to me. In some ways it may have detracted from the major trajectory of the novel, but I think Hershon is a skillful enough writer to keep things in check.
Who would like this book? A Dual Inheritance has been compared to both The Marriage Plot and Rules of Civility. For me, these comparisons do not hold up. But having said that, I do not know what I would compare it too. Like The Marriage Plot, A Dual Inheritance takes place in an university setting for at least half the story. Aside from that I would argue that they are very different sorts of novels. I do highly recommend A Dual Inheritance. It took me some time to get into, perhaps 100 pages, but it was worth it. It will go down as one of my memorable books of 2013.