One woman’s Azzedine Alaïa is another woman’s what-the-hell-is-that. You know which you are.



Four ultrachic New York women try to cope with being in their 40s.

“She was wearing a purple and black Marc Jacobs maxidress with motorcycle boots and a fur scarf. In August. She looked like Lori Goldstein doing a Steven Meisel shoot for Vogue.” For some readers, descriptions like that are a luscious treat. Others can recognize only two of the proper nouns: "August" and "Vogue." Readers in the first category are going to love this book, whose narrator, Lucy, is an ex-model with a journalism degree married to a very famous and quite-a-bit-older artist. (As she confides to her mother, “He drinks deer blood for his virility.”) Suddenly finding themselves past their it girl expiration dates, Lucy and her three best friends are having a bumpy summer, though they continue to eat and drink their way through Per Se, Il Buco, Bar Pitti, and Kappo Masa, staying slim by attending yoga classes taught by Uma Thurman’s younger brother and celebrating their birthdays by getting papaya enzyme vagina facials. The gang includes Billy, another ex-model, now pursuing a career as a cuisine celebrity; Sarah, an aspiring socialite with a PR team who is desperate to get on a reality show called Under the Plaid Skirt, about New York private-school girls all grown up and mean as ever; and Lotta, a drop-dead-gorgeous Swedish party girl/downtown art dealer who doesn’t realize she’s too old to do ecstasy and coke every night. Bensimon’s (I Can Make You Hot, 2012) debut novel makes excellent use of her background as a model and the former editor of Elle Accessories, and she’s not a bad writer, either. The dialogue is funny, and a plotline involving a mysterious blogger who’s terrorizing all of New York is intriguing and twisty.

One woman’s Azzedine Alaïa is another woman’s what-the-hell-is-that. You know which you are.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3611-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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