THE PARTY by Sally Quinn


A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining
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 Trite, trivial, and tasteless describe this unrewarding effort of a society reporter, novelist, and ``sometime Washington hostess.'' That latter label horrified Quinn (Happy Endings, 1991) when she heard it aplied to her on Good Morning America. She was, after all, a ``serious journalist,'' and ``hostess'' was synonymous with ``frivolous'' in her view. She was, alas, somehow persuaded otherwise. Quinn has organized a book about giving parties that begins with a credible mantra from her party-giving parents: ``A guest can do no wrong.'' It's downhill from there. Names--from the Clintons to Princess Margaret, Henry Kissinger to Lauren Bacall, and Washington pundits too numerous to mention or remember--are scattered profusely, but many of the anecdotes are pointless and without context. One secret of legendary hostess Perle Mesta's success, she tells us, was to hang a lamb chop in her window to signal a party--but why? Perhaps lamb chops have a kinky sexual connotation not revealed here. More likely, it was WW II and meat was rationed, making lamb chops a surefire lure for partygoers. No hint of that historic motive from Quinn, whose party success meter seems to be how many guests ``in black tie and . . . evening gowns were reclining all over the living room floor giggling.'' Moreover, in a chapter alluringly titled ``The Booze,'' her vaunted motto regarding the immunity of guests stops short at large cocktail parties, where she refuses to serve red wine because ``people spill,'' and coffee after dinner, because ``it kills the party''--presumably sobering everyone up. Other chapters deal equally improbably with table settings, entertainment after the meal, and where to have the party. Beginning and ending chapters are titled ``The Point'' and ``The Point (Again),'' but Quinn seems to have missed it both times. Go to Miss Manners for a useful guide to party giving or to almost any celebrity bio for better anecdotes about parties-I- have-known. (b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81144-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997


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