Bright, Precious Days Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 95 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Bright, Precious Days.
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Bright, Precious Days Summary & Study Guide Description

Bright, Precious Days Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney.

The complex relationship between Russell Calloway, his wife Corrine, and his deceased former best friend Jeff as hinted at in his book Youth and Beauty is introduced first in the novel to give an idea about that Calloway’s complicated marital issues. The revelation that Corrine engaged in an affair in the wake of September 11 closely follows to further upset their relationship. When Russell, an editor and publisher, hosts a dinner party to welcome his newest author, Jack Carson, to New York City, it comes to light that Corrine’s sister, Hilary, is their children’s biological mother, revealing Corrine’s strained relationship with her family.

As time passes, the romance between Russell and Corrine wanes, resulting her rekindling her affair with Luke, a wealthy man she met while volunteering after 9/11. Russell bets his financial future on the success of a book deal with an author, Phillip Kohout, who dumped him years ago. He also nurtures his budding author, Jack, whose debut novel is met with great success. Jack’s rising literary celebrity encourages his drug habit, straining his interactions with Russell.

As the affair between Corrine and Luke heats up, the sordid relationships between the Calloways’ married friends come to light. Russell’s best friend, Washington Lee, has been sleeping with Corrine’s best friend, Casey Reynes, occasionally for the last two decades, and their affair crescendos with the events leading up to the subprime mortgage crisis. In the early stages of Washington’s renewed infidelity, he and his wife, Veronica, go to dinner with Russell and Corrine. At the dinner Washington causes Russell to doubt the book deal with Kohout after learning Washington’s publishing house, along with several other, passed on the deal.

These doubts lead to the beginning of Russell’s emotional decline and midlife crisis. Corrine’s relationship with Luke continues to progress, to the point where Luke leaves his wife to pursue her. To compound Russell’s worries about the success of Kohout’s book, Jack’s decline into drug addiction jeopardizes his future as an artist, reminding Russell of his former best friend Jeff, a successful author who died of an overdose years before. Washington’s affair with Casey peaks at a charity event they both attend with their spouses, when Veronica discovers his infidelity and they enter a period of separation.

Russell’s troubles reach a new high when it is revealed Kohout’s story about being held hostage by infidels in Pakistan is a lie. The book deal based on the memoir of that story implodes, and with it, Russell’s hopes for a secure financial future. He must now worry about being able to afford their increasingly expensive TriBeCa apartment and keeping his business afloat. In addition to the Kohout scandal, Jack drops Russell as his editor and publisher due to Russell’s heavy-handed editing style.

Corrine’s affair continues, with Luke’s efforts to get her to leave her husband causing her to retreat from the relationship marginally. Once Luke returns to live in New York City after selling his winery in South Africa, they become bolder with their meetings, arranging dates under the guide of girls’ nights out or weekend getaways with Casey. Corrine begins to suspect Russell knows about her infidelity after his demeanor changes following the Kohout scandal.

Jack’s drug addiction leads to his death in a car crash with famous artist Tony Duplex, a friend of Jeff’s in the 1980s. Russell learns of his demise on the same day he learns of Corrine’s affair. He kicks her out of their loft and resists all attempts to repair their marriage for months after. Corrine leaves their apartment that night and ends her relationship with Luke. The night of the 2008 presidential election marks the beginning of their reconciliation.

Just when Russell is unable to keep funding his business due to his main investor pulling out after the failure of Kohout’s book deal, Washington offers to personally invest half a million dollars to keep the publishing company running. Russell quickly learns the money is actually from Corrine, and their ensuing interactions lead to the end of their separation.

Months later, Corrine runs into Luke at an art exhibit and they have an awkward, stilted conversation highlighting the less than amiable end to their relationship. The screenplay for Youth and Beauty that Corrine has been working on for decades is finally produced. The book concludes with Corrine, Russell, and their friends at the screening. Corrine’s desire to enjoy the walk home with Russell instead of rushing to the party celebrating her success illustrates her personal growth throughout the novel and the love she has for her husband.

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