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LADY BE GOOD by Amber Brock


by Amber Brock

Pub Date: June 26th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5247-6040-3
Publisher: Crown

Women's fiction set in the 1950s, with a touch of social consciousness.

In her second novel, Brock (A Fine Imitation, 2016) tells the story of 25-year-old Kitty Tessler, the spoiled, devious daughter of New York hotel magnate Nicholas Tessler. An attractive socialite in the Paris Hilton mode, Kitty leads a carefree existence, shuttling between beauty salons, nightclubs, and fashion shows. Yet she’s not really satisfied and yearns for acceptance in the elite, old-money world epitomized by her good-hearted BFF, Henrietta Bancroft. So Kitty hatches a complicated and fairly implausible scheme to separate Hen from her fiance, the social-register cad Charles Remington, and claim him for herself; the idea is to secure his pedigree and make him miserable at the same time. Meantime, Kitty’s loving father—concerned about her future—virtually commands her to marry Andre, his steady but not-so-exciting second-in-command. Needless to say, things don’t go exactly as anyone planned. The action moves from New York to Miami to pre-revolutionary Cuba, where the visiting Kitty and Hen get a taste of the unrest that will eventually bring Castro to power. It's here that Kitty begins to emerge from her privileged cocoon, thanks to Max, a Jewish bandleader in the Tesslers’ Miami hotel, who opens her eyes to social injustice. The pace of the book quickens during the Havana interlude, which includes scenes set in the real-life Hotel Nacional and other local hot spots. Throughout, though, too much space is devoted to descriptions of cute outfits and lavish decors. And while there’s a tiny hint of Jane Austen in the novel’s romantic intrigue, the characters are mostly one-dimensional, their dialogue stilted. The cheery resolution—with Kitty learning to be proud of her lineage—is never in much doubt.

Some amusing moments but not as clever or observant as it needs to be.