The book is set in what looks very much like Wellesley, Massachusetts, and I kept thinking that the school was modeled on Wellesley College (it's co-ed, but in all other respects seems a match). At least, that's how I kept envisioning it. I enjoyed the academic setting of this book, and absurdities of that world, which Smith details well. There were many times during the book when I simply wanted to hit Howard. I learned that I have very little tolerance for the weak-male mid-life crisis. I also occasionally wanted to smack Zora, who has a tendency towards the obnoxious. So, the characters are not exactly likable, hardly so. It says something that despite that I enjoyed this book very much.
Zadie Smith, On Beauty (Penguin, 2006) ISBN: 0143037749