When I heard that the author of Gossip Girl, Cecily von Ziegesar was releasing a new, NYC based novel, I was over the moon. I had read Gossip Girl both before and after the series was on The CW and loved how different they both were -- it was like getting two stories from one set of characters. I really enjoyed Cecily's writing as a teenager so was excited to read something geared toward an adult audience.

I had applied and been accepted to receive an arc of the novel, titled Cobble Hill, on Netgalley before it was published this past November but only got around to reading it a few weeks ago. 

My disappointment in it was palpable. The book was noted as one of the best reads of 2020 from a variety of media outlets yet they could not have been more wrong.

Publisher's Summary

Welcome to Cobble Hill.

In this eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood, private storms brew amongst four married couples and their children. There’s ex-groupie Mandy, so underwhelmed by motherhood and her current physical state that she fakes a debilitating disease to get the attention of her skateboarding, ex-boyband member husband Stuart. There’s the unconventional new school nurse, Peaches, on whom Stuart has an unrequited crush, and her disappointing husband Greg, who wears noise-cancelling headphones—everywhere.

A few blocks away, Roy, a well-known, newly transplanted British novelist, has lost the thread of his next novel and his marriage to capable, indefatigable Wendy. Around the corner, Tupper, the nervous, introverted industrial designer with a warehose full of prosthetic limbs struggles to pin down his elusive artist wife Elizabeth. She remains…elusive. Throw in two hormonal teenagers, a ten-year-old pyromaniac, a drug dealer pretending to be a doctor, and a lot of hidden cameras, and you’ve got a combustible mix of egos, desires, and secrets bubbling in brownstone Brooklyn.

Smart, sophisticated, yet surprisingly tender, Cobble Hill is highly entertaining portrait of contemporary family life and the colorful characters who call Brooklyn home. 

My Thoughts

This book was so weird. It had virtually no plot and I kept waiting for the story to start. There were way too many characters and it took me until more than halfway through to understand who was who. I kept waiting for characters to run into each other, for them to get to the point of the story but it never did.

The book centered around the Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, but it felt so unlike Brooklyn and New York in general. It felt out of place and truly, this book could've taken place anywhere in the world. There was nothing unique about the setting that made sense for the book to even be named 'Cobble Hill.'

I was so frustrated the entire time reading this because nothing was happening, it was truly boring. The characters weren't likable, a lot of them were really strange but not in a quirky way, in a truly strange way. As I'm typing this, I feel myself getting heated for wasting my time reading this, which is why this review sounds so aggressive. 

This felt very similar to Liane Morairty's latest book, "Nine Perfect Strangers". I didn't finish reading that book because there were too many characters and no storyline. "Cobble Hill" was very rambling with a lot of little plot points that didn't really make a ton of sense.

Usually when a book has a lot of characters and a lot of mini plots, it will somehow meet in the middle. This book never truly got to that point. 

There was of course, a climax where a big event happened and all the characters met but it was almost too little, too late. It came in the last few chapters of the book and by that point, didn't make a ton of sense. The characters were isolated for too long and they just didn't mesh together. 

All of this being said, the writing was good... it was the story development that was bad. I was so excited to read this, to have a grown up version of Gossip Girl, but that's nowhere near the truth. I rarely do negative reviews on my blog, mostly because I enjoy most of the books I read. I can always find a bright spot in a story, even if it wasn't my favorite. I've also gotten into the habit of not wasting my time with books I don't like but for some reason, I was determined to see if this "Cobble Hill" got better.

I would not recommend this book to anyone and that makes me sad.

What is a book you've read lately that wasn't what you expected?

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