Reviews for Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living
Booklist Reviews 2008 May #1
Things aren't going well for Manhattanite Arthur Camden. His wife has left him for someone more interesting (she told him as much). The import-export business he inherited from his late father has gone belly up--and he knows he's to blame. The one thing keeping him sane is his membership in the exclusive Hanover Street Fly Casters Club. But that well-heeled connection soon goes up in flames--literally. (He should have checked the chimney before starting a fire at the club's historic Catskills lodge.) Arthur needs to reinvent himself, but where to begin? He spends some time with his son's family in Colorado, then with a childhood friend now living in France (the latter turns out to be an inconsiderate drunk). But it takes a lively, sharp-tongued woman named Rixa (who bears an uncanny resemblance to the model on Arthur's vitamin bottle) to recognize Arthur for the gentleman he is. Dahlie's dark humor and light touch elevate this debut about a damaged man determined to make the best of the rest of his life. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 April #1
Portrait of a well-heeled wimp.When we first see Arthur Camden he's crying his eyes out. The middle-aged New Yorker has reached his nadir. He has run the family import-export business into the ground, and his trampy wife Rebecca has divorced him. Arthur's a member of an exclusive fishing club, the Fly Casters, and he has his tearful breakdown in front of his fellow members, believing them to be his friends. He's wrong; for most of them he's a figure of fun, but there's an exception, Ken Fielder, who fixes Arthur up with some dates which don't pan out. Then Arthur dates a woman called Rixa who insists he show her the club's luxurious lodge in the Catskills, though it's breaking the rules to sneak in strangers. The evening is a disaster; accident-prone Arthur causes a fire and bursts into tears as the club burns down. He's forced to resign, but he still has his Park Avenue apartment and enough money to sustain a work-free lifestyle. Time to escape Manhattan. He takes up the reluctantly proffered invitation of an old school friend with a nice spread in the French Alps, but Prentice Ross is no more a friend now than his erstwhile fishing buddies. He's a neglectful host, an angry alcoholic who lands Arthur in trouble with the cops; lacking the guts to deck Ross, Arthur beats a hasty retreat to Switzerland. Instead of a plot Dahlie arranges a series of scenes that humiliate Arthur without granting him self-knowledge; the point being, presumably, that there's no fool like an old fool. At a family reunion on Nantucket he steals his cousin's watch, an expensive family heirloom, only to have its loud alarm incriminate him, a moment of primitive farce. Farce is followed by wild improbability when ex-wife Rebecca, quite drunk, pressures Arthur into meaningless sex, leading him to hope for a reconciliation. Fat chance.Touted as a comedy, Dahlie's debut is an exercise in schadenfreude that is not remotely funny.Agent: Douglas Stewart/Sterling Lord Literistic Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 March #2
In Dahlie's entertaining debut, Arthur Camden is a fly fisherman, devoted husband and father, and minor Manhattan socialite who would like nothing more than to avoid "troubling introspection." Yet his slow botching of the family import-export business and the sudden dissolution of his marriage certainly have something to do with his bursting into tears at a meeting of the Hanover Street Fly Casters--a men's club founded by his great-grandfather--and declaring his steadfast love for its members. This display of emotion is only the first crack in his reputation, and a sojourn to his son's Colorado ranch begins a retreat to the safety of the club's restricted world, while sorting out a bevy of complex feelings he struggles to recognize, let alone process. In the balance is nothing short of his identity and self-worth, stakes that debut novelist Dahlie makes abundantly clear with light comic touches. Dahlie's dry and understated portrayal of old upper-crust Manhattan is as crisp and authentic as a well-made gin and tonic; the various turns of plot are swift and precise; and one is soon rooting for Arthur to get his groove back. (June) [Page 56]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.