It is the Saturday after the 2016 presidential election, and in a plush weekend house in Connecticut, a group of New Yorkers has gathered to recover from what they consider the greatest political catastrophe of their lives. Liberal and like-minded, the friends have come to the countryside in the hope of restoring the bubble in which they have grown used to living.
Moving through her days accompanied by a carefully curated salon, Eva Lindquist is a generous hostess with an obsession for decorating. Yet when, in her avidity to secure shelter for herself, she persuades her husband to buy a grand if dilapidated apartment in Venice, she unwittingly sets off the chain of events that will propel him to venture outside the bubble and embark on an unexpected love affair.
A slyly comic look at the shelter industry, Shelter in Place is a novel about house and home, furniture and rooms, safety and freedom and the insidious ways in which political upheaval can undermine even the most seemingly impregnable foundations.
A new novel from a favourite author is always a tonic - no matter how well things are going. Given the state of things at the moment then, a new novel from a favourite author is a lifeline - and Leavitt's latest does not disappoint.
Having loved Leavitt since 'The Lost Language of Cranes' gave my young self into a future where I may be able to live openly, I've read his work eagerly. Shelter in Place is many things - part state of the nation reflection on Trump's america, part comedy of errors, and part stage play - the witty repartee longing to be read out loud and bounced back and forth.
The cast of characters here are intelligent, clever, and not hugely likeable - but Leavitt writes them with irresistable humour. I chuckled throughout and laughed loudly at various points - and I think this is likely due a reread, as the dialogue is so quick I likely missed some of the subtler exchanges.
It's worth saying that this isn't necessarily a shallow read though - shallow characters leading shallow lives are examined in minute detail, with their situations in the changing America a reflection on the nation as a whole.
In a few years, it feels like this will be a perfect read to reflect on life in Trump's america - and I will most certainly be glad of a reread.
Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the copy