A fun, but ultimately forgettable, escape into moneyed madness.

PERFECTLY IMPOSSIBLE

The personal assistant to unfathomably wealthy Upper East Side socialite Kissy Von Bizmark keeps her boss’s life in order while neglecting her own.

Anna, a 30-something Yale-educated struggling artist, spends most of her days not in the studio painting but in the home of Kissy Von Bizmark—Bambi to her husband, Mrs. Von Bizmark to her staff— taking care of all the minutiae that keep the family afloat. Secret plastic surgeries, splashy vacations on the private jet, a fancy personal chef flown in from Colombia—Anna finagles, finesses, and finds a way to fulfill her employer’s every whim. But when the Von Bizmarks are to be honored at the New York City Opera’s opening night ball—following their financing of the entire production, to the tune of $12 million—Anna must contend not only with the drama of planning an over-the-top pre-gala luncheon, but with the growing marital strife between the Von Bizmarks and her own identity crisis. Readers who enjoy a glimpse into the outrageous lives of the one percent will find plenty to enjoy in the deviously decadent characters, exorbitant displays of wealth, and tongue-in-cheek humor. But it’s this flagrant privilege that also brings the novel down. Modern audiences are not the same readers who devoured The Devil Wears Prada (2003)—to which this book will no doubt be compared—almost two decades ago, and reading about $4 million credit card charges, private helicopter rides to Hamptons mansions, and beleaguered assistants now feels more out of touch than ever. With its Cinderella-at-the-ball ending and “the wealthy are just like us!” ethos, the novel reads just a shade too sincere to be truly satirical, and the wasteful ways of the superrich are never deeply examined.

A fun, but ultimately forgettable, escape into moneyed madness.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1867-8

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket.

SUMMER ON THE BLUFFS

A self-made Black millionaire invites her three goddaughters for a last Martha's Vineyard summer—at the end of which one will get the mansion.

In the first volume of a planned trilogy, Terry McMillan meets Elin Hilderbrand: There are strong Black women in a lovingly detailed coastal Massachusetts location amid clothes, food, and long-kept secrets. Hostin's grande dame, New Orleans–born Amelia "Ama" Vaux, once known as the "Witch of Wall Street," has buried the other half of her long, seemingly perfect marriage. Power lawyer Omar Tanner, "a quiet man who looked good in suits"—almost every man in this book looks good in or out of suits and resembles Denzel Washington, Billy Dee Williams, Dev Patel, or Paul Newman's little brother—has collaborated with his wife on her fairy godmother project. Instead of having their own children, they chose young Perry, Olivia, and Billie, filling their plebeian lives with monied ease and Vineyard summers in the elite Black enclave of Oak Bluffs. Now Ama is ready to pass on Chateau Laveau to one of them while bestowing equal, but unnamed, gifts on the others. She arranges several months off for all three women, now a high-powered lawyer, financier, and marine biologist (she's a witch, all right), and flies them up for a summer that promises to end with not just the gifts, but with revelations. It takes a little too long to get there, though some may enjoy the leisurely setup and relentless name-checking—a concordance of the Black visual artists, musicians, authors, actors, designers, and celebrities mentioned here, along with the New York and Martha's Vineyard restaurants and bars, could be a valuable book in itself. Hostin's most serious weakness is substituting catalog copy for characterization—one character "look[s] fierce in a charcoal-gray Rachel Comey jumpsuit"; another "add[s] a pair of playful Sophia Webster sneakers"; Ama chooses a "chinoiserie pattern...as recherché and mysterious as her eldest goddaughter."

Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-299417-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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