Gregory Kirschling
June 13, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Morningside Heights

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Cheryl Mendelson
publisher
Random House
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

Morningside Heights is the gentrifying Manhattan neighborhood where drifters from nearby Harlem pass Columbia professors on the streets, where family Thanksgivings often include an impromptu recital of Schubert lieder, and where psychoanalysis is a four-day-a-week commitment. It is, in other words, a sensational backdrop for Morningside Heights, a long, smart, soapy novel of manners, which is what Cheryl Mendelson — philosophy professor, Harvard-trained lawyer, and author of the 1999 best-seller on keeping house, ”Home Comforts” — delivers in her fiction debut, the first in a projected three-book saga. Following a pair of married musicians (he’s an opera singer, she’s a lapsed pianist) as they and their four kids get priced out of the hood, ”Heights” reads like ”Peyton Place” for the supereducated.

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