A very different type of book for well-known author Jane Hamilton, Laura Rider's Masterpiece is the story of a husband and wife who are at a crossroads both in their marriage and in their lives. Charlie and Laura Rider run a beautiful nursery and successful landscaping business together. While their business venture is blooming, their love life is not; they sleep in seperate beds and do not have any feelings of sexual intimacy. When a famed radio talk show host moves into town, Laura pushes Charlie into an email relationship as a means to end - Laura believes that the exchange will provide perfect fodder for the great romance novel she intends to write. However, it soon becomes clear that Charlie has fallen hard for our host and that Laura's novel will have a different ending.
Hamilton, best known for her The Book of Ruth, is making a strong statement about the nature of email, the anonymity of the Internet and the concept of what makes a writer.