A sweet, sad tale of love lost and found in the world of high fashion.
In his debut novel, Korean War veteran Galitello seamlessly inhabits the minds and hearts of a couple of young fashion designers in 21st-century Paris. Katerina Alexander is not a part of the great world when the novel opens—though a beautiful and talented teen, she grows up far from the action, on West 239th Street in the Bronx. The prospects for a career in haute couture are unlikely at best. The boys around her are such brutes that Katerina’s uncanny allure becomes more burden than boon. She grows to hate herself for the effect she has on men, though “late at night in her room to the love songs of Bryan Adams,” she longs for “a love of her own who would somehow be perfect, pure and complete.” With the help of stage parents and best friend Destiny (who seems perhaps a bit too eerily comfortably in her lifelong role as second banana), Katerina fends off the discouraging dean of students at the New York School of Fashion and the jealousy of rivals to eventually land herself and Destiny in the highest echelons of Paris design. Before long, she marries top designer Rene Moreau and lives in splendor at the heart of the fashion world. “It was almost a make believe life,” she reflects to herself before, in one fell swoop, disaster strikes. Ghostwriter Carr ably renders the imagination of the author, resulting in a story well worth reading. Katerina and Destiny’s world is well-observed and rings true, from their choices in music to their anxieties to their secret desires. While the plot can sometimes be unnuanced, Galitello’s characters are well-delineated and likable.
An affecting debut about a young woman’s suffering and triumph.