Insipid summer fare for the very bored.



Party boy from L.A. who never had to grow up spends a long hot summer drying out in the Hamptons—in a dishy debut that feels like a roman à clef.

Stylish, aging garmentos Irma and Sam Raider, formerly of Brooklyn, now billionaires in La-La Land, threaten to cut off their 38-year-old life-of-the-party son, Harry, recently saved from a cocaine-induced coma in a Beverly Hills hospital, if he doesn’t straighten up. Before Harry even arrives to visit in East Hampton with nebbishy Wall Street trader Freddy Ackerman (son of Sam’s former partner) and his down-to-earth artist wife Jessica, matrimonial traps have been set by Harry’s former high-school friend, Chas Greer, a onetime male model who has transformed himself into the ultra-suave personal shopper and confidante to desperate Manhattan ladies. Chas’s clients need husbands. Fat, lovelorn rich girl Penny Marks wants to be as sought after as her druggie, glamorously anorexic sister Bunny, but she hasn’t got the discipline. Horsy old-guard Waspy Milly Harrington, who actually had to go to work at a Wall Street firm to maintain her family’s fortune, wants a Jewish husband to replace the love of her life, who jilted her for marriage to a nice Jewish girl and numerous offspring. Chas, moreover, is tired of scraping by and plans to extract a cool million for his matchmaking efforts so he and boyfriend Juan can live in style. Thus, the pins are in place, poised to be knocked down one by one by the childish exuberance of Harry, who’s not as stinky as the other rotten eggs around him. Goodman-Davies knows her turf; she sounds all the petty outrages and vulnerabilities of the very rich and very unhappy. Making heavy use of excessive plotting and vulgar, over-the-top party scenes at the close, she manages to match Harry with the one character the reader hadn’t thought of.

Insipid summer fare for the very bored.

Pub Date: May 30, 2005

ISBN: 1-4022-0332-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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