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ON THE LIST OF BEST SELLERS


Published: Sat, March 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


By ELIZABETH WELLINGTON
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
"Everyone Worth Knowing" by Lauren Weisberger (Simon & amp; Schuster, $23.95)
Lauren Weisberger's first book, "The Devil Wears Prada," was essentially a collection of vignettes about a bear of a boss at a major fashion magazine.
And because pundits said Miranda Priestly's fictional world as the head of Runway magazine closely resembled that of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, book reviewers and fashionistas couldn't get enough of the tome that confirmed our low expectations of high fashion.
In "Everyone Worth Knowing," Weisberger gives us an insider's view of another world: a fashion/lifestyle public-relations firm.
But in addition to the cleverly written and on-point descriptions of the glitzy, invitation-only red carpet events attended by -- you guessed it -- everyone worth knowing, Weisberger tells us a solid story about a young woman figuring out how to live life on her own terms.
PR drama
When we meet 27-year-old Bettina Robinson, she's an unhappy banker at a job she's had for seven years. Within the first 100 pages, Bette quits her job and is hired at Kelly & amp; Co., New York City's hottest lifestyle public-relations firm.
Almost overnight, Bette transforms herself from the Ann Taylor-suit type to a party girl swathed in $100 camisoles and skinny jeans from Barneys and Bergdorf. She meets Phillipe, an English playboy and slick flirt who never follows through on his promises (but is good for her career), and Sammy, a bouncer at the city's hottest club who is as unsure of himself as he is about his feelings for Bette.
Her new on-the-scene lifestyle makes Bette a target of a vicious online gossip columnist, and besides her job and her social life -- which soon become indistinguishable -- Bette must deal with her best friend's impending marriage, a meddling uncle, and parents she is semi-embarrassed about.
Some of Weisberger's characters have depth, while others just fit into the all-good, all-evil mode needed to keep the story moving. There also are unexpected cameo appearances by celebrities such as Jay-Z. But the book is at its best portraying the drama taking place in the lifestyle public-relations firm.
Such firms have become the gauge of what's hot and what's not. It used to be that the consumer dictated what was hot, thus driving supply and demand. But basement parties and random meetings at bars don't get the word out about an "it" item as effectively as a red-carpet event in every city that only a few people get into but somehow makes it to the pages of local newspapers and tabloids, specifically for the masses to covet.
Social job vs social life
Public relations companies have become the new underground, and these days we get to know new fashion labels, specialty drinks or magazines at events hosted by the Kelly & amp; Companies of the world.
As a fashion writer, I happen to be one of the people worth knowing, so I get invited to a lot of cool events around town. That's the main reason I read the book with such bemusement.
The women waiting at the door dressed in black holding clipboards ready to refuse folks are real. The $400 bottles of Grey Goose at VIP parties are real. The coveted lists of everyone worth knowing are real.
These parties are fun, and if you are plugged in on the right list in your city, open bars and butlered hors d'oeuvres are yours for the taking.
Still, you have to wonder, as Bette does: How do you draw the line when your very social job interferes with your personal life? Weisberger's trendy novel addresses that issue with humor and a "no she didn't!" ending that makes "Everyone Worth Knowing" worth reading.


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