33. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
Weisberger, the queen of modern chick lit, is definitely an author worth knowing. I read The Devil Wears Prada about three years ago after it had been a bestseller for quite some time. I'm the first to admit I tend to be a book snob, but though I may kid, I feel strongly that you should never be ashamed of what you are reading. Unless it is The Da Vinci Code. No. Kidding, really. Anyway, I was blown away by the quality of the prose and the product lust it inspired even in my staunchly anti-materialistic self. I've been looking forward this summer to another such delicious "trashy" read and carefully selected this one.
Everyone Worth Knowing is the kind of "good negative press" for public relations that The Devil Wears Prada was for fashion magazines. Bettina Robinson is a much more likable and stronger protagonist than Prada's Andy. Weisberger also made her secondary characters, Bette's best friend Penelope and gay uncle Will, strong, but to the cost of the lethal boss-and-coworker characterizations that dominated her debut. I think it was probably smart on Weisberger's part to play down that bit though, because she could never equal her portrayal of Miranda Priestly, rumored to be modeled on her own boss at Vogue. There are a few sly references to the fashion industry embedded in the book however, and public relations is certainly connected to that world and no less glamorous. What Weisberger does best is help her readers imagine themselves in a career that, no matter how the main character seems to hate it, seems thrilling and somehow above the ordinary. In Everyone Worth Knowing, she completes the fantasy and provides Bette with a seemingly perfect man, whom she attains after a series of requisite complications. The way Bette's public and personal life are entwined make the complications of a slightly different nature, but in the end, it's the same old story. I thought the love interest as a character was not well developed and the way he leaves Bette in the lurch for months and never apologizes did not seem ideal to me. Also, there is another man that she appears to be dating in order to boost her job, whose hiatus in the closet seemed very unrealistic. I greatly enjoyed Weisberger's use of romance novels as a motif, it reminded me of Cervantes' references to novels of chivalry. She sends a message loud and clear, women should never be ashamed of what they want, even if it is as cliche as a handsome, dashing stranger who will sweep you off your feet.