The Heirs: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a witty, smart and engrossing story of a wealthy New York family which has been fractured by the surprise appearance of an unknown woman claiming paternity of two sons after the patriarch has died. Told from the perspectives of the widow, her five sons, and other characters, the story reveals the way they deal with this news, each other and the lives that lie ahead of them. A great read!— From Sally
Named one of NPR's Best Books of 2017
"Both original and moving — and a whole lot of fun." — CAROLINE LEAVITT, New York Times Book Review
"A must-read." — People
"Fans of Salinger's stories about Manhattan's elite will enjoy this novel about privileged siblings who grapple with the state of their inheritance and long-held secrets that emerge in the wake of their father's death." — InStyle
Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him. In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure.
Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together -- Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm -- and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor. The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty – a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor’s sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all.
A riveting portrait of a family, told with compassion, insight, and wit, The Heirs wrestles with the tangled nature of inheritance and legacy for one unforgettable, patrician New York family. Moving seamlessly through a constellation of rich, arresting voices, The Heirs is a tale out Edith Wharton for the 21st century.
About the Author
SUSAN RIEGER is the author of the 2014 novel The Divorce Papers. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School and has worked as a residential College Dean at Yale and as associate provost at Columbia. She lives in New York City with her husband, the writer David Denby.
Praise for The Heirs:
"Both original and moving — and a whole lot of fun...With grace and finesse, Rieger (whose previous novel was The Divorce Papers) swings effortlessly from character to character... the major players are so richly alive, their search for the truth so absorbing, that you might tear some pages in your rush to turn them."
— New York Times Book Review
“Elegant literary prose and supremely likeable characters make this a must-read.”
"Fans of Salinger's stories about Manhattan's elite will enjoy this novel about privileged siblings who grapple with the state of their inheritance and long-held secrets that emerge in the wake of their father's death."
“Love and sex and money and betrayal make for excellent storytelling. And The Heirs has all of that... As an exploration of the hidden lives of Rupert and Eleanor Falkes, it is a posh soap opera written by Fitzgerald and the Brontes. As a window on a family shaken by death, it is The Royal Tenenbaums, polished up and moved across town. But its beauty, economy and expensive wit is all its own.”
“Speaking of intrigue, who doesn’t love a good family drama? As the next step to summer reading bliss, turn off daytime TV and pick up a book that gives you the same kind of thrill without making you feel your brain’s turned to junk. Rieger’s The Heirs is about the secrets and lies that threaten to consume the Falkes family, moneyed Manhattanites with a flawless educational pedigree.”
— Brit + Co
“…a thoroughly engaging family saga and an incisive probe into the upper crust of Manhattan society—a slice of Edith Wharton transported to the 21st century… Rieger’s intimate look at this intriguing family is an erudite and witty take on a social circle that most readers can only imagine.”
“Brilliantly constructed and flawlessly written…an emotional and satisfying story of how a complicated family and their outliers handle life’s most pivotal moments.”
— Library Journal, starred review
"[An] assured novel of family, money, and secrets, reminiscent in theme and tone of Edith Wharton…just in time for poolside reading, this elegant novel wears its intelligence lightly.”
— Kirkus, starred review
"Rieger wrestles perceptively with difficult questions and... shines incrementally increasing light on the Falkes’ extended web of familial and emotional ties, sucking the reader into the tangle of emotions and conflicting interests... a tense, introspective account of looking for truth, and instead finding peace."
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Told both in flashbacks and at the turn of the millennium, there’s something timeless about this family drama; take it back 100 years, and it would easily fit in among the novels of the Gilded Age. It is a charming, slightly haunting look at a family dealing with the inheritance of legacy rather than money and wondering if what happens after a relationship matters as much as how it was experienced at the time."
— Diana Platt, Booklist
"Susan Rieger is thrillingly erudite and compulsively readable, a satisfying combination hard to find in any section of the bookstore. The Heirs is an absorbing page-turner, full of sex and secrets, and I loved getting to know the entire Falkes clan.
—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers
"What a sure-footed and unfoolable writer Susan Rieger is--and what a great book The Heirs is. Unstoppably entertaining and astute, it describes its characters--the charismatic fauna of old, upper class New York--with a strange, merciless sympathy. Wonderful stuff."
—Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog
Selected Praise for The Divorce Papers, by Susan Rieger:
“Ingenious setup and voyeuristic pleasures...Rieger excavates the humor and humanity from a most bitter uncoupling.”
—Emily Giffin, New York Times Book Review
“Fresh and lively… Smart and wonderfully entertaining… The power and canniness of this bittersweet work of epistolary fiction pulls you along… [T]his portrait of a divorce makes for serious, yet charming, entertainment… A dramatic intertwining of the law and human feelings.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR
“In her clever modern twist on the epistolary form, Rieger excavates the humor and humanity from a most bitter uncoupling.”
—Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review
“Brims with brio and wit.”
“This comedy of manners... unfolds through e-mails, legal briefs, handwritten notes, and interoffice memos... the texts offer a provocative glimpse of how intimately our documents reveal us.”
“Rieger writes with such facility and humor in so many voices… [A]n excellent yarn about the nature of love, insecurity and commitment.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A witty first novel… The engaging tale…provid[es] all the voyeuristic pleasure of snooping through someone else’s inbox.”
“A fantastic book...excellent.”
“Whip-smart… The characters are hilarious and brilliant.”