"On Beauty" is, in the manner of Austen or James, a character driven view of "ordinary life" made to seem extraordinary. It is both every family and a distinctly unusual family. Howard and Keiki, long married, are vividly drawn so that one can "see" how much one's choices define the lives of those around us. The dialog is authentic, the academic dialogue a triumph of irony, and the protagonist(s) a manual for how one's choices determine--as the Greeks believed--one's fate.
I recommend this book to anyone who will be sensitive to the author's blending of cross-cultural relationships, academic pretension and the vivid, consuming woman at the center of the novel. She is both fictional and real.