A distinguished fellow of the American Institute of Interior Designers delivers an entertaining debut novel about a New York designer and his wealthy clients.
In 1976, when Eaton Downing agrees to build and decorate a palatial mansion for Moses and Dolly Abrams, he feels confident about the assignment. Although he’s used to working with wealthy clients who have their own ideas about good taste, he’s horrified when the 54-year-old pizza king and his chorus-girl bride insist on creating eight different bedrooms for enacting their sexual fantasies. Eaton feels that the plan will make his clients’ abode more like a hotel than a home. Still, he dutifully complies with their wishes, creating rooms with Southwest, French, Japanese, circus and futuristic themes. Meanwhile, although Eaton’s raison d’être is his work, he finds himself entranced by his design school chum’s fashion-designer wife. The novel’s loving descriptions of interior designs sometimes fill entire chapters, but the lush details are carefully woven into the story, making them accessible to casual readers as well as design fanatics. (The novel even includes a helpful glossary of design terms.) The author’s prose style is languorous and polished, and he effectively sketches minor characters with minimal fuss. However, the novel’s twist ending, while fun, necessitates a lengthy epilogue with terse plot explanations. Although some aspects of the plot, particularly the love story, feel slight, readers will likely find the novel’s glorious interior descriptions and its engaging characters irresistible.
A light, breezy read that interior-design and decorating enthusiasts will especially enjoy.