Infidelity comes with a high price, but if you could get away with it, would you do it? This is the mindset of four New York women in Susan Fales Hill's sexually charged novel One Flight Up.
Think Sex and the City with married couples. Well, almost. Three out of the four women narrators of the book struggle with marriages bereft of spunk, while India, the thirty-seven year old would-be betrothed divorce lawyer, remains unmarried yet attached to a French pastry chef who has yet to woo her into matrimony.
The novel starts out with a brief introduction to each character's life. In addition to India, you've got; Monique, a highly successful ob-gyn married to a powerful but dispassionate financier; Esme, a sassy Columbian with a penchant for one-time trysts with men all over town; and Abby, whose high school sweetheart, over the years, develops more than just a wandering eye for younger, wealthier women.
The narration of the book seesaws from woman to woman, delving into the motives each one has for initiating rendezvous with other men. As a well-read, highly successful businesswoman, India offers up, somewhat reluctantly, a loft she has rented sub-rosa as a kind of safe haven for each woman's extramarital affairs. Originally intended as a second home where India could find solace from the world, it wasn't long before keys were duplicated, and her secret, mini chateau served as a kind of love shack for their round the clock escapades, conveniently located one flight up.
While the story seems to centralize around India and her dalliances with ex-fiancee Keith Wentworth, Fales-Hill does an excellent job at juggling perspective from narrator to narrator, giving the reader a lucid glimpse into the sad trajectory of marriages that, over the years, have lost their luster. There is something to be said though for cheating, and the ease with which each woman casually slips into it. While they each seem to have their own reasons for playing footsie with other men, the least believable affair of them all was India's rendezvous with Keith.
Having called off a previous engagement with him for cheating, it seemed like it was only a matter of pages before India was giving in to Keith's advances, despite a recent engagement to a younger woman. What's worse, Keith was a fairly loathable character, making it hard to see the eagerness behind India's decision to hop back in bed with him.
Ok, admittedly, the logic here wasn't that complex--India described Keith's love making as "atomic", and apparently that was enough to reel her in. But there wasn't enough to like about him personality-wise to make up for the fact that we, as readers, could not experience this "atomic" lovemaking, which seemed to be the sole reason behind her anxiety over having to choose between Keith and her French pastry chef. Simply put, it was hard to be on her team.
By and by, each woman must come to terms with her insatiable hunger for passion, which later begs the question of how much each is willing to sacrifice in order to get it. India, Abby, Esme, and Monique are swept up in a whirlwind of close-calls, sheer ecstasy, and flat out defeat, keeping the story animated yet at the end of the day, sobering. The dialogue between the women was quick-witted and sharp, making it hard to stifle an out loud laugh here and there. Fales-Hill definitely masters the tone of the thirty-something New York woman though, and there are more than a few moments when the reader may find themselves wishing they were a part of this four-woman rat pack, for better or for worse.