THE LOOK by Nina Blanchard


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 The founder of a West Coast modeling agency uses the fashion world as a high-glam backdrop for a standard-issue tale of ambition and betrayalin a first novel written with screenwriter and author Barsocchini (Ghost, 1989). Fortyish Jessica Cartwright has built up her agency via hard work and motherly good principlesand she's reaping the rewards: The agency is hot, her corn-fed superstar Caddie Dean is on the cover of Time, and young lawyer Phil is also her lover. But trouble is brewing in Europe. Ambitious ne'er-do-well Garret Stowe gleans from the Time article that there's big money to be had in the agency business. He insinuates his way into a failing Parisian agency, and, by resorting to unscrupulous shenanigans, revivifies it. Then it's off to New York City. Bankrolled by an ex-lover, Garret starts his own agency, luring away Jessica's top bookers, her lover Phil, and many of her best models, including gullible Caddie Dean. Meanwhile, Aaron Adam, a Calvin Klein-like designer, decides that Caddie's too overexposed to star in his jean ads, and he challenges the agents to help his photographer come up with a new message. Garret proposes an unsavory idea: photographs of older men ogling jailbait-aged girls. He flies in gorgeous Ginny Fischer, a Wisconsin 12-year-old whom ethical Jessica has refused to sign because of her youth. But as Garret proceeds to cheat and corrupt everyone around him, Jessica slowly hatches a plan for worldwide expansion. Then, when Caddie suffers a disfiguring accident, Jessica suspects Garret and launches an investigation into her rival's mysterious past. Mostly workmanlike stuff: Green-eyed beauties, glitzy restaurants, and well-choreographed sex--the requisite fare for the genre. Still, Garret's nefarious manipulations are over-the-top and amusing: His villainous imagination infuses this dusty model-war rehash with welcome fresh air.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1995
ISBN: 0-525-93795-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1995