The Maine event

Adam Bloch, a billionaire Jew, is marrying Maisie Maclaren, 20 years younger than him and the adoptive mother of two four-year-old Chinese girls.

lewis book 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
lewis book 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Adam the King By Jeffrey Lewis Other Press 224 pages; $21.95 This darkly foreboding novel, set in the late 1990s, begins with a lavish wedding in Clement's Cove, Maine. Adam Bloch, 54, a billionaire Jew, is marrying Maisie Maclaren, 20 years younger than him and the adoptive mother of two four-year-old Chinese girls. A minister and a rabbi are both officiating. Many years earlier, Adam had been the driver of a car when there was an accident and Maisie's sister was killed. Now, having met Maisie accidentally in New York and then having successfully courted her, they are getting married. Adam is building an enormous mansion in Clement's Cove for his new family. There is a strained relationship between the year-round residents of the town and those who come just for the summers, such as Adam and Maisie. Not only do they live in different economic worlds but they also occasionally have an employer-employee relationship. Such was the case with Roy and Verna, an unmarried couple who are permanent residents. He does odd jobs and for a time was employed by Adam but he quit because his hot temper made it difficult for them to get along. Verna, who works as a house cleaner, owns a piece of land that she inherited. It is adjacent to the site of Adam and Maisie's new home. When Maisie tells Adam that she would like to have a pool in which to swim laps, he tries to buy Verna's land for the pool, offering far more than it is worth. She refuses to sell - much to Roy's disgust because he was hoping to get his hands on some of the money. Having laid this background for the sad event that eventually provides the story's culmination that peripherally involves Israel, author Lewis proceeds to fill in some of the blanks. He stresses the gap between the two kinds of people who live in Clement's Cove, leaving the reader to infer whether or not he is offering a commentary on social class differences in America. This possibility is given some weight by the fact that this book is the fourth in a series that Lewis calls the "Meritocracy Quartet." The first two books, Meritocracy: A Love Story and The Conference of the Birds are set in the 1960s and the 1970s. Some of the characters that appear in Adam the King also are represented in these two earlier books. The third book, Theme Song for an Old Show, takes place in the 1980s and introduces new characters. It is more autobiographical, featuring a protagonist who writes for a television cop show, "Northie." Lewis actually co-produced and wrote for the police procedural television series Hill Street Blues. He won several awards for his contribution to this program. For Adam the King, Lewis was able to draw on his intimate knowledge of Maine since he divides his time between Los Angeles and Castine, Maine. He is a skilled writer whose tidy prose is well-ordered as it tells the story without superfluous verbiage but with penetrating insights. The writer is the founding dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University and dean emeritus of the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.