Eric and Nick were at college together. For what we know Eric is bisexual and Nick was in love with him since forever. They had a clandestine relationship which lasted through the first marriage of Eric (with a woman of course). But Eric has political aspirations and a gay lover is not a thing he could have and so he broke with Nick and married another woman, Ally, another former college mate and also a former girlfriend of Nick.
Eric was honest with Ally, he doesn't love her, but he likes her, and being him a very wealthy man, he could help her career. But he was not honest with her regarding their marriage, better he was not "straight" about it: because since the first week after their honeymoon, Eric started again to see Nick. When Ally discovers the truth she also realizes that she doesn't want to see her marriage broken, and accept to share Eric with Nick, and sometime, also to share Nick. But really they don't have a real menage, with Eric living in Washington and Ally and Nick in New York, and when they are all in the same house, most of the time sleeping in separate rooms, with Eric that changes bed as he likes.
Of all the three characters I like better Nick. Actually I think he is the only one who has real and deeply love feelings. He is in love with Eric since forever, Eric was his first love and the first man (even if it is not said I think Eric is the only man for Nick). He tried to move on their relationship, he tried also to marry, but he realizes that he can't do that to another human being, since he will always love only Eric. And so he contents himself with bits of life, what he can rip off from Eric's official life, only to be again and again punch down and shield away.
Ally is a woman with self consciousness problems. She doesn't consider herself at the same level of Eric or Nick, she knows that they have something before her and since they continued also after her marriage, she somewhat imagines that she isn't enough for her husband. Plus she is not fulfilled with her works and so she suffers a lot from the workaholic behaviour of her husband. She is not even satisfy when she has not one but two men for her.
And in the end Eric. He is the only reason both for Nick than Ally. They lean to him for everything, his word is law. He is a very commanding man, even if he is not physically the stronger, actually Nick has the body of an former football player, and instead Eric is long and lean, but in spite of this, also in bed with Nick, he has the upper hand. Eric has an aloof behaviour and a frozen heart: his parents had a very bad marriage relationship and he learnt to not trust love. It is not that he can't love, only that he always thinks that people knows that he loves them without him giving a proof. And not a material thing, he is plenty of capable to buy things, but he is pretty reluctant with feelings. Actually when you drag him by force in front of the truth, he is able to understand, he is not dumb, but it's not his first impulse.
I don't know if feel content that this is not really a menage, since there aren't scene with multiple partners (there is only a scene where Ally witnesses to Eric and Nick making love) or not. Given that I don't really like menage, maybe it's better, but on the other hand I always felt Ally like an intruder and when Eric and Ally made love, I always felt like they were cheating on Nick. Yes since I feel like Eric and Nick being the real couple, both since they were together before and also since Eric was really free and comfortable only when he was with Nick... I had the feeling that, when he was with Ally, he was always playing a role, of the man in control, of the man that must never fail. Probably since Ally needs a man like that.
And so, always the same question... I like this book? It's not an easy answer. Probably yes since, first I finish it in only one night, and this means that the book is easily to read and flows smoothly, and second since it make me think, on the characters and on their behaviour, and this means that they arrive to me. All right maybe of the three characters, I really like only Nick, but, well, why do you have to like all the characters of a book to like a book? A character could be imperfect if it suit the story, and, well, without Eric and his total imperfection, the book would have no reason to exist.
Amazon: The Arrangement
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc (June 21, 2008)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott