Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Schooled--- All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can be her best self, and give that best to her students.

Turns out it isn't that easy.

Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalk boards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.

And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering this underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers--one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barneys, dinners at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue.

Until, that is, the truth sets in.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gilding Lily

Gilding Lily --Lily is on top of the world. Just a few short years ago she was a pretty, but relatively unknown, girl from Nashville. Now she is married to "the" Robert Bartholomew, is a Vogue "Girl of the Moment," a reigning member of New York's social scene...and she's slowly falling apart....along with is her marriage. With a post–pregnancy body (not a size two anymore!) and a mother in law from hell, Lily must navigate through waters that are infested with sharks––human sharks! And once she begins to write about her experiences, Lily starts to see who her friends and enemies are.

I was chosen to receive an advance copy of this book and review it for the publishers website. I will also post my review here as well sometime next week. Just finished it yesterday!

About the Author:
Tatiana Boncompagni, is a Manhattan–based freelancer for the New York Times Sunday Styles section, the Wall Street Journal Weekend section and the Financial Times Style & Shopping pages. Her writing has also appeared in Vogue and In Style. A top ten graduate from Georgetown University's prestigious School of Foreign Service, she worked for the Wall Street Journal in Europe, and, later, as a reporter for the Legal Times in Washington, DC. Married to Maximilian Hoover (of the vacuum cleaner Hoovers), she currently lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Yes, she knows Tinsley Moritmer and Fabiola Beracasa, she truly is descended from an Italian Princess, and you can learn more about her at

Friday, July 25, 2008

And the Plot Thinned ...


TRUMAN CAPOTE said of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” his classic novella of a New York glamour girl, that he was trying to prune his writing style, achieve a more subdued prose. Of course, Holly Golightly became the lodestar to designers as well as to millions of young women who have been enthralled by her single-minded spirit and by the image evoked by Audrey Hepburn in the opening shot of the film, as the cab races up Fifth Avenue and deposits her in front of Tiffany’s.

Holly is now 50 — as hard as that is to believe. This realization lends a certain poignancy to the many new books in the past year, most of them in the chick-lit category, that have attempted to graft her legend. There are: Lauren Weisberger’s “Chasing Harry Winston,” Kristen Kemp’s “Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s,” Michael Tonello’s “Bringing Home the Birkin” and James Patterson’s “Sunday at Tiffany’s.”

You don’t have to read these books to imagine the outcome: girl meets guy; girl gets guy but first she has to discuss him endlessly with her gal friends and perhaps Mother, who is typically a dragon or an ex-supermodel or both. Subdued they are not. (Mr. Tonello’s inspired book, a memoir of his experiences thwarting Hermès’s wait-list strategy for its coveted Birkin bags, is more on the order of guy gets handbag ... and scores!)

Romantic summer novels are silly, to be sure. What is fascinating about the current batch, which includes “The Beach House,” by Jane Green, is how faithfully they are informed by the values and brands of the fashion world and its parallel universes of entertainment, media and publishing. Ms. Green has made Nantucket real estate a theme of her book. And while she may not know the island well enough to know which direction a character is facing — she has a Spenderella named Jordana gazing at the ocean when it is actually a harbor — she has recognized a clear shift in the East Coast status game.

As her editor, Clare Ferraro, the president of Viking, said, “It’s almost as if real estate has become an accessory,” adding, “It says something about who you are.”

Maybe. But a pair of lizard Jimmy Choos does seem to pale in novelty and conversation value next to a $12-million Nantucket house.

On some level, though, it is terrible to imagine what these books say about ourselves, as escapist as they are meant to be. Ms. Ferraro thinks that such books provide a kind of balm for hard times, in the same way that glamorous movies did during the Depression. Readers, she said, “will be living gratuitously through these books.”

To a large extent, they already are. Jonathan Burnham, the publisher of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, notes that the audience for novels with a heavy quotient of clothes and Page Six dander isn’t made up of East Coast sophisticates. Rather, he said, “The audience is Middle American women looking to buy a taste of the glittering East Coast experience, with all the silliness.”

He also pointed out that the most successful of these books distill the best bits of the fashion world — the clothes, the famous brand names, the over-the-top characters — instead of dwelling in a fashion house or idling too long backstage. Could the travails of designers be a bore? It seems so.

Ms. Weisberger’s 2003 novel “The Devil Wears Prada” was, after all, about a powerful, latte-demanding fashion editor. And since most people knew that her roman à clef was based on her former boss, Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, that added to the intrigue. Despite the exposure the fashion world got from shows like “Sex and the City,” the inner sanctums of the business were still largely unknown to people. “The Devil Wears Prada” was followed a year later by Plum Sykes’s “Bergdorf Blondes,” which Mr. Burnham edited, releasing, it seemed, cataracts of labels and apple-martini-swilling socialites in hot pursuit of equally delish sex.

There is no question that certain brands, like certain summer resorts, have a talismanic effect. And if you can weave a romantic comedy around the Chanels and Sub-Zeroes, as Ms. Green has done — with the sentimental addition of a chic old coot named Nan presiding over a rundown beach house — you might have a best seller.

But this summer’s brand-flogging novels also reveal a kind of empty clink at the bottom of fashion’s well. Is that all there is? Has the fashion plot thinned to such a degree that it’s just about presenting life as a blue velvet ring box or a giant Birkin bag?

When I got done turning down the corners of the pages of Mr. Patterson’s novel that mentioned a brand name or a stylish place (he, too, transports his characters to Nantucket), my copy looked severely riddled. His heroine, a successful if mildly self-loathing playwright named Jane Margaux (as in the wine, Margaux Hemingway?), fairly chokes on the array of contemporary anxieties, observing of her boyfriend, “While Hugh flirted with an obnoxiously pretty and pathologically thin fashion model who had seen HIS play four times, I pretended to study the dessert menu, which, sadly, I knew by heart.” This is, clearly, late-stage withdrawal from fashion.

If Capote mentioned a famous label at all (Mainbocher turns up on a page), it was to merely establish that his glamour girl had good taste.

But fashion wasn’t important to Holly. Despite the Paris wardrobe in the movie version, she made it clear she thought the whole thing was something of a wonderful joke, a bore. Take it or leave it. That was her appeal. As she said, explaining why she didn’t stick around Hollywood and become an actress, “My complexes aren’t inferior enough.”

But the references in most of the new books don’t so much inform us about the pop-fashion world as much as remind us how hideola, to use Holly’s term, it is. “Using all those brand names is sort of bizarre,” said Ms. Sykes. “At the time that ‘Bergdorf Blondes’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ came out, it seemed so modern. Now it seems old-fashioned.”

Ms. Sykes, who writes for Vogue, brought a thorough knowledge of fashion, as well as a Mitfordish humor, to “Bergdorf Blondes.” To her, the most successful of these types of books, like the most successful socialites, are those that “acknowledge that they are in on the joke” that fashion’s over-the-top spectacle presents.

Married and now 38, Ms. Sykes is dubious about trying to come out with another trendy novel. “You can’t write a fashionable comedy about married girls who have two children and are approaching 40,” she said. “For one thing, they can’t wear the clothes.” This does not mean she thinks the form has been tapped out. On the contrary. She fully expects a young person to come along and imagine fashion and New York from his or her generation’s perspective. Maybe with pruning shears.

Ms. Weisberger’s latest novel has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 13 weeks. It seems obvious that with “Chasing Harry Winston” she has put more effort into the development of her characters — three successful gal pals approaching 30, without a dream guy on the hook — than she did in her previous book.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to have a glitzy, double-entendre title (is Harry a man or a rock, or, gosh, does it matter?) and a dust jacket design that recalls “The Devil Wears Prada,” both deliberate decisions, according to Marysue Rucci, her editor at Simon & Schuster. That’s just good marketing, and any fashion dunce understands that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chronicle Books Friends and Family Offer

Chronicle Books is having a "friends and family" sale - All titles 30% off plus free shipping. July 22 - August 3. Use promo code FRIENDS at checkout.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Literary Tattoos

I will probably never get a tattoo - I hate needles and I don't think I could ever decide on something that I liked enough to have myself branded with it...forever and ever. I was on a literary website and they posted this site Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos: Tattoos from books, poetry, music, and other sources. Facinating. Take a peek.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Emma's Table

Emma's Table -- From the moment Emma Sutton walks into the esteemed FitzCoopers auction house, the one-time media darling knows exactly what she wants: an exquisite antique dining table. What she doesn't realize is what she's getting: the chance to set things right.

Fresh from a year-long stretch in prison and the public bloodletting that accompanied her fall, Emma needs a clean slate. She finds her life just as she left it, filled with glittering business successes and bruising personal defeats—rolling television cameras and chauffeured limousines, followed by awkward Sunday dinners at home. She knows, deep down, that she needs a change, though she can't imagine where it might come from or where it will lead.

Enter Benjamin Blackman, a terminally charming social worker who moonlights for Emma on the weekends, and Gracie Santiago, an overweight little girl from Queens, one of Benjamin's most heartbreaking wards. Together with an eclectic supporting cast—including Emma's prodigal ex-husband, a bossy yoga teacher, and a tiny Japanese diplomat—the unlikely trio is whisked into a fleet-footed story of unforeseen circumstance and delicious opportunity, as their solitary searching for better paths leads them all, however improbably, straight to Park Avenue and the dynamic woman at the novel's center.

Sophisticated yet accessible, lighthearted but also telling, Emma's Table is a thoroughly winning and surprisingly affecting tale of second chances.

The author is also the columnist for my new favorite section of the NY Times Style Section - Social Q's.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Down the Garden Path

Down the Garden Path has stood the test of time as one of the world's best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. Ostensibly an account of the creation of a garden in Huntingdonshire in the 1930s, it is really about the underlying emotions and obsessions for which gardening is just a cover story. The secret of this book's success - and its timelessness - is that it does not seek to impress the reader with a wealth of expert knowledge or advice." As unforgettable as the plants in the garden is the cast of visitors and neighbors who invariably turn up at inopportune moments. For every angelic Miss Hazlitt there is an insufferable Miss Wilkins waiting in the wings. For every thought-provoking Professor, there is an intrusive Miss M, whose chief offense may be that she is a "damnably efficient" gardener. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.

The Anglo Files

The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British -- Sarah Lyall, a reporter for the New York Times, moved to London in the mid-1990s and soon became known for her amusing and incisive dispatches on her adopted country. As she came to terms with its eccentric inhabitants (the English husband who never turned on the lights, the legislators who behaved like drunken frat boys, the hedgehog lovers, the people who extracted their own teeth), she found that she had a ringside seat at a singular transitional era in British life. The roller-coaster decade of Tony Blair's New Labor government was an increasingly materialistic time when old-world symbols of aristocratic privilege and stiff-upper-lip sensibility collided with modern consumerism, overwrought emotion, and a new (but still unsuccessful) effort to make the trains run on time. Appearing a half-century after Nancy Mitford's classic Noblesse Oblige, Lyall's book is a brilliantly witty account of twenty-first-century Britain that will be recognized as a contemporary classic.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

American Wife

Looks like another crappy book by author Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, The Man of My Dreams). You can read the review (sort of) of her latest due out in September from Radar Magazine. Apparently it's a thinly veiled shot at historical/biographical fiction.

Did anyone else enjoy Prep or The Man of My Dreams? I think a lot of people got all excited because of the title of her first book and that grosgrain belt for the jacket image (I was sucked in by it) but I really thought it was horrible. The second book wasn't much better so I am definitely NOT reading this one.

The Flirt

The Flirt -- Tantalizing words written on an ivory card. It is the first clue that will lead an intrigued and intriguing London lady on an odyssey of sensual experience designed to awaken her romantic nature. Out-of-work actor Hughie Venables-Smythe has found a profitable new outlet for his talents. He is hired, often by distraught husbands, to flirt with wives who are feeling neglected in their relationships. His current seductive campaign is focused on Olivia, the spouse of a narcissistic billionaire, and the lady is responding quite nicely to the cream-colored missives he secretly leaves for her. So nicely, in fact, that Hughie decides to employ a similar technique—and shockingly similar messages—in his pursuit of his own heart’s desire: the aloof and charming lingerie designer, Leticia. But the canny, professional flirt’s brazen anonymous intrusions into the lives of two women are about to set in motion a series of remarkable events that no one could have anticipated—setting the stage for shocking revelations about love, friendship, and domestic bliss.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Daily Candy Lexicon

The DailyCandy Lexicon: Words That Don't Exist But Should -- Maybe you’re tired of talking the way you’ve talked for years (please stop calling things “dope”), or maybe you’re embarrassed that you didn’t know what your cubicle-mate meant by “desk burn” (it’s an injury sustained during in-office sex). Either way, you need a dose of The DailyCandy Lexicon:

· Tart fuel: n. Girlie drinks. e.g., cosmos, kirs, or anything that tastes like Kool-Aid.

· Teenile: adj. Used to describe someone who is way too old for what she is wearing. (“That 45-year-old woman is wearing low-cut jeans. Is she crazy or just teenile?”)

· Kama-suture: n. Aid for injuries sustained during aerobic bedroom exercises (particularly by non-aerobic types).

· Crapas: n. One of the many bad versions of the “small plates” craze.

· Apathy hour: n. What happy hour usually feels like.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tan Lines

Tan Lines -- A Jacqueline Susann–style thriller by way of Candace Bushnell, Salem's scorching debut follows three young women on a wild Hamptons summer of reinventing themselves. Unhappy with fireman hubby Justin (whom she married in the aftermath of 9/11), fashionista feminist and political media pundit Liza Pike, 29, is harvesting her eggs for future momhood and considering divorce. Former actress Kellyanne Downey is the depressed mistress of wealthy, possessive businessman Walter Isherwood, while indie rock chick Billie Shelton finds herself on a downhill slide: I can't. I'm all fucked out. Reschedule. A prologue foretells that a grisly murder, a premature birth, and a public meltdown, will be the eventual fate for the three at the posh Hampton summer rental they're sharing, and Salem doesn't disappoint. Her poolside read throbs with intensity, spiked with erotic detail (eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn't find any of them) and disturbing aftershocks.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

One Fifth Avenue

I just paid a ridiculous amount of money in order to be one of the first people to read Candace Bushnell's new book One Fifth Avenue which won't be released until September 22nd. I will probably re-sell it when I am finished with it which will be probably a day or two after I receive it - if anyone is interested let me know!

Fashion Victims

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Heartbreak Diet

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over-- Thorina Rose's funny, beautifully illustrated memoir charts the unexpected dissolution of her marriage and the struggles and adventures of starting over. After marrying young, living in New York, and settling in San Francisco, Rose and her husband start a family. When he begins an affair with his "running partner," Rose must find a way to rebuild her life with her two young sons, navigating her own inner doubts, the chorus of advice from well-meaning friends, and coping mechanisms close at hand: retail therapy and pet adoption (not so useful); leaning on friends and travels with gay men (very useful). With humor and insight, The Heartbreak Diet is a moving and entertaining meditation on fidelity, family, and finding one's way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Anyone remember Heather Thomas from her pre-author days???? Yep, she was on The Fall Guy with Lee Majors and looks fabulous! Now she's written a novel entitled Trophies: Marion Zane is the top Trophy—she has it all: a faithful husband, loyal fellow-Trophy girlfriends, queen-bee status over the Hollywood "name-above-the-title" charities, and—best of all—no prenup!

She knows inside information is king, smiles hide jealousy, jackals lure husbands away (or, worse, steal personal assistants), housekeepers have the power to destroy, and that everyone has devastating secrets—including her! It's why she refuses to gossip yet remembers everything.

So why is she so nervous?

Maybe it's because, after years of unchallenged social position, Marion forgets that in L.A., even enemies embrace—especially ones disguised as girlfriends. When she impulsively champions building a much-needed trauma center hospital downtown, Marion breaks the unwritten code by stepping on another Trophy's charity turf. It's a fatal mistake.

Her furious and jealously bitter "girlfriend" joins forces with a powerful mystery partner to destroy Marion. Drugged and framed as unfaithful and insane, she loses her dream life in one lurid, unforgivable humiliation.

Abandoned by her husband, her deepest secrets exposed, Marion is left shattered and literally penniless in paradise. Determined to build the hospital and regain her love, lifestyle, and dermatologist, Marion goes to hilarious lengths to hide her newfound poverty from even her closest friends, living out of her luxury car and using Magic Marker for eyeliner as she raises hospital funding at five-star restaurants.

Fortunately, Marion's loyal, lusty Trophy girlfriends discover her condition through her overwhelmed maid and come to her rescue, employing ferocious manipulation skills, ridiculous logic, and much-needed dermabrasion. Redirecting the same competitive hyperdrive that won the rocks on their fingers, the girls make Marion their new project even as they deal with their own crises.

Still, all the Trophy support in the world might not be able to stop Marion from betraying one of them; then her mystery enemy is revealed and she's given the choice of re-enthronement or vilification. After all, she's a survivor and didn't become Marion Zane by fair play alone.