On the surface, On Beauty is about two families, the Belseys and the Kips. Both are academic families with the fathers holding positions as professors - Howard Belsey at a Boston college and Monty Kip in the UK. Not only do they differ in their opinions of art, they are radically opposed on the political spectrum with Monty holding up the views of a religious right-wing conservative and Belsey playing the role of the liberal academic. The characters in this book are diverse and complex and the issues covered are equally broad. Although the plot mostly revolves around marital fidelity, the book raises many questions about race and policies like affirmative action and the cultural divide between the ultra-religious and the liberal intelligentsia. Definitely a book that had me thinking about race and the loss of identity experienced in interracial marriage. My major complaint about this book is that it covers too many issues and seemed to lack cohesion or finality. But maybe the messy indeterminate ending is appropriate for our crazy and diverse society.