Billed as a roman à clef, this first novel by the Kleier trio (who star in HGTV’s reality show Selling New York) seems more of a recitation of trendy brand names, trendy shops and restaurants and the trendy New York City residential real estate coveted by Big Apple movers-and-shakers.

The lightweight narrative chronicles the adventures of the Chase family, Elizabeth, the mother, and Kate and Isabel, daughters who work with their parents at Chase Residential, "a wildly successful boutique agency." The authors (mother and daughters) are real-life Manhattan residential brokers. They know multimillion-dollar locations, and they know people willing to bid above asking price for the view: "After irritating Elizabeth for months with his indecision and almost daily phone calls, the exasperating Bart Schneider finally opted to buy." They know co-op boards want to see financials and will demand dogs take the freight elevator. The Chases also recite every brand name coveted by those who earn seven figures, from Jimmy Choo to Badgley Mischka. The plot is minimal. Kate worries about an on-again/off-again relationship with a can't-find-himself boyfriend. Teddy Wingo, a womanizing, high-producing Chase broker, conspires to join a rival firm. Then there is Isabel's enigmatic client, Delphine, the trophy wife of a count, but any reader not bedazzled by Möet Chandon will decipher that mystery before the next power lunch at Balthazar. Much of the narrative moves via cell phones or chauffeur-driven Mercedes, or while shopping at Saks or Bergdorf or over a lunch of pollo patanato at Sette Mezzo. Countless names are dropped—everyone from Billy Joel to Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones—and doubt Page Six fans will be amused to see doppelgängers in cameo appearances.  

Ungaro, Chanel, Nina Ricci, Poggenpohl and Sub-Zero do not great storytelling make.


Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-1127663

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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