Caitlin Shetterly could not have been thrilled when she heard that Elizabeth Strout's "Lucy by the Sea" was being published.

"Lucy" was a bestseller last fall, written by the beloved Pulitzer-winning Strout. And, like "Pete and Alice," it's about a couple with enormous privilege who take advantage of the opportunity to leave Manhattan at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and move to Maine, where they deal with long-seated issues while viewing — from a comfy distance — both the global health crisis and the post-George Floyd reckoning with injustice.

It's impossible not to think of "Lucy" when you begin "Pete and Alice" but the good news is that by the end, Shetterly's assured writing and flawed, sometimes maddening characters make you stop wondering if the people in the two novels are neighbors.

Shetterly's book — which is wise about humans' ambivalent feelings and often wryly funny (again, like Strout) — has one big difference from "Lucy." Strout's characters are elderly, re-examining a relationship that has gone through several big changes. Shetterly's are 40-ish and, as they try to figure out if they can recover from Pete's infidelity, they share their Maine hideout with daughters who bring wicked humor and fresh perspectives to the proceedings: caustic Sophie, who's at the exact age of adolescence where she knows that referring to her parents by their first names will annoy the heck out of them; and clingy Iris, who loves her big sister so much that she can't help but employ everything in her considerable arsenal of irritants to get her attention.

The novel shifts between the characters' viewpoints, but the main one is that of weary Alice, who has sidelined her career as a playwright: "I felt like I was plunged into darkness thinking about my marriage and our troubles and how I feel like I will never get out of this worse-than-torpor situation we're in where we discuss nothing and nothing gets solved and yet here we are stuck together even though sometimes I want to stab Pete in his sleep."

Alice's relentless, un-comma-ed overthinking of everything is both relatable and entertaining, as is Shetterly's ability to zero in on how many of us were feeling in the summer of 2020 ("A year ago this was not a thing. Now it's the thing," Alice remarks about Zoom.)

Shetterly is equally good at getting into the heads of the kids, as when Alice says people sometimes pull apart and then spring back together, as if they're connected by rubber bands — which makes Iris imagine "a big, thick pink rubber band, like the kind that comes on broccoli from the grocery store, and she imagines two plastic people, like the kind that go on top of a cake, on either end, stretching between their fingers."

You could be annoyed by the family's wealth, with two luxurious homes and an endless stream of Amazon purchases. I was, initially. But I became involved in their lives and in hoping they'd use their time in Maine to find a way back to each other — or, if not that, a way to get to the other side of the pandemic that's maybe, finally, possibly over.

Pete and Alice in Maine

By: Caitlin Shetterly.

Publisher: Harper, 256 pages, $28.99.