A first novel, from a former model who graduated from Yale, about a model who goes to Columbia .
When she leaves Wisconsin for Manhattan, Emily doesn’t just start a new life, she starts two (not entirely harmonious) new lives: as a student at Columbia and as a model. Like many a freshman, Emily packs on a few extra pounds during her first year of college, and her story has a similar weight problem. It’s bloated with inconsequential incident. Emily trudges from shoot to shoot. She does catalogues. She does advertising. She remains a nameless face. Emily takes exactly one turn on the runway, and it’s a disaster. As a lesson to aspiring young models seeking nonstop glamour and free couture, Emily’s tedious tale may have value. As entertainment, it’s a bust. A model who worked during the early late ’80s and early ’90s—during the days when models were first becoming “super”—Hazelwood might be expected to deliver a little dish. Sadly, she offers nothing more than generalized tittle-tattle—models do cocaine, models have eating disorders, models have plastic surgery—that will come as a surprise to no one who has any knowledge of the fashion world. As for Emily’s Columbia stint, it barely registers. School is mostly a scheduling conflict, and the only characters who challenge the ethics of Emily’s job are pitiful caricatures of political correctness, easily dismissed. Nothing in Emily’s education causes her to wonder if there’s an inherent connection between her choice of careers and the abuse—physical and emotional—she suffers pursuing it. When Emily finally decides that she’s had enough, her rebellion seems arbitrary: Why is listening to an Italian designer mock her cellulite worse than being sexually assaulted by her costar in a commercial or being drugged by an agent?
Readers looking for a front-row seat at Fashion Week will have to look elsewhere: Lacking glamour, devoid of thrills, this is the literary equivalent of a Sears catalogue.