What’s better than a New York City novel about cheating husbands and swinging wives, Brooklyn sex clubs, Manhattan real estate and waiting in line for cronuts? Perhaps nothing, which is why first-time novelist Taylor Hahn’s “The Lifestyle” will likely be the beach read of the summer, from Coney Island to the Hamptons.
Hahn lives in L.A. now, but not long ago, she was a Manhattan lawyer at a cocktail party listening to a conversation about swinging. It was her “eureka” moment, realizing the idea of a married couple becoming wife-swappers was perfect novel fodder.
“It had the potential for so much. Sex, drama, love, jealousy. But I dug into it and realized it was something bigger, so I wanted to write a sex-positive, feminist novel about this woman exploring her sexuality without shame.”
One Friday night the novelist’s protagonist, Georgina Wagman, decides to pop in on her husband at their shared law office. She discovers her supposedly loyal spouse in a compromised position with a female colleague. After some initial hurt, the pragmatic Georgina tries to fix her marriage by enlisting her husband (and all their friends!) into exploring New York’s sex-club scene. The resulting hijinks are described in hilarious detail.
Not too explicit, “The Lifestyle” actually is a novel for the faint of heart, according to Hahn.
“I would say the book is swinging for the masses,” she says. “Everybody should feel comfortable picking it up, regardless of their experience with the lifestyle or their comfort with their own sexuality.”
By the novel’s end, the avidly feminist Georgina is such a fan of swinging she considers herself a “coitus crusader” or a “swinging suffragette.”
It’s an opinion Hahn holds, too, as by the end of “The Lifestyle” her characters are all better off with their decision to explore — whether this results in stronger marriages for some and divorces for others.
“Swinging helped them grow as people, to explore a side of themselves they haven’t explored before. While it may have changed their lives in different ways, it was all for the better.”