CREATURES OF HABIT by Julie Baumgold


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 `` many nights of my life was I expected to sit down to dinner in the Temple of Dendur with a drunk on one side and a troubled investment banker on the other as the Hank Lane Orchestra played Jeremiah was a bullfrog in my ear?'' How many, indeed, for Libby Alexander, the society scribe known as ``The Pimpernel,'' whose love-hate relationship with the world of the very well-heeled is the stuff of this style-crazy first novel? Libby is the daughter of a Madison Avenue couple who lost their silver ice buckets of money in an investment scam. She's turned to poison-pen journalism and, as ``The Pimpernel,'' gets invited to all the best parties--though even Libby can see that as the 80's close, it's definitely an after-the-ball kind of scene. Through her jaded eyes we take a pew at a by-invitation-only society funeral, slather brie on water-biscuits in living rooms that would make a ``perfect set for Blithe Spirit,'' go walking in Central Park with a gaggle of wealthy matrons who call themselves ``The Peabrains,'' and watch a water main break at the center of Libby's world--Madison and 69th Street. Meanwhile, she develops a hopeless crush on the reclusive Danny Gates--he of Gates Department Store. But because of her funny eyes and essential ``otherness,'' she stands aside and simply watches as Danny shacks up with Veronica, wife of billionaire inventor Jack Kahn. But Jack gets his revenge--and Veronica back--by buying Danny out, leaving Libby to write Danny's biography. The story is silly, but Baumgold (a contributing editor of New York magazine) depicts the world of the idle super-rich with the assurance of an insider, exercising her writerly chops everywhere, questing after the Truman Capote mantle. The result: a heavy-handed satire that'll amuse some--and send others groping for antacid.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41805-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993