Synopses & Reviews
As addictive, decadent and delicious as chocolate itself
Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.
Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.
As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.
"This is the story of Bettina Ballentyne, only child of the terrible Babs, heiress to a massive chocolate fortune. A precocious 10-year-old when we meet her, Bettina's a careful student of her mother, following her rules (Babs 'refuses to have a fat daughter,' so Bettina never eats the family chocolate), noting her etiquette reminders (a man who can't afford to buy his mistress really good jewels should stick to flowers), and memorizing her sex tips (the proper terminology for oral sex, Babs advises, is 'admiring the centerfold'). In later sections, 15-year-old Bettina's at prep school, where she undergoes the usual harassment by mean girls, discovers a taste for rough sex, and realizes that her roommate's boyfriend is the son of her mother's lover, a man Bettina nursed a crush on. Things end predictably badly, and for all the book's desire to shock (there's a lot of sex and sex talk, and Babs is a bad mother on an epic scale) it never quite does. Babs is too cartoonish, Bettina too blasÃ©, and the writing too stilted (a problem made worse by the lack of contractions in speech) for us to care much, sex scenes notwithstanding. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The story of the daughter of a glamorous chocolate heiress who must navigate a complex landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence through a privileged childhood in Chicago and an East Coast prep school, with only her narcissistic mother to guide her.
Bettina Ballentyne is a chocolate heiress only by name; it is her glamorous and narcissistic mother, Babs, who lives up to the billing and plays by no ones rules. Navigating a simultaneously treacherous and alluring landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence—first in her privileged childhood in Chicago and later at a top-tier east coast boarding school—Bettina must figure out how to reconcile her yearning for maternal affection with her mothers take-no-prisoners-style parenting.
Ashley Prentice Nortons unflinching eye and acerbic wit capture Bettinas coming of age with the perfect mixture of tragic and comic. Simultaneously sassy, deeply twisted, and uproariously funny, the novels sharp and sparkly humor will have you laughing during its darkest moments. A mesmerizing portrayal of the corrosive effects of an American fortune, The Chocolate Money is a shocking and intensely readable debut.
A fresh and provocative debut novel about a reclusive young woman saving up for weight loss surgery when she gets drawn into a shadowy feminist guerilla group called "Jennifer"—equal parts Bridget Jones's Diary and Fight Club
An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far
A New York Post “Best Novel to Read This Summer”
An Us Weekly “Hot Summer Novel”
O, The Oprah Magazine, "10 Titles to Pick Up Now"
A USA Today “New and Noteworthy” book
One of Vulture's "8 Books You Need to Read This May"
An Indie Next Pick
"Witty and wise."—People
"A giddy revenge fantasy that will shake up your thinking and burrow under your skin, no matter its size."—Entertainment Weekly (
About the Author
SARAI WALKER received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College. As a magazine writer, she had articles appear in national publications, including Seventeen and Mademoiselle. She subsequently served as an editor and writer for Our Bodies, Ourselves before moving to London and Paris to complete a Ph.D. She currently lives in the New York City area. Dietland is her first novel.