Synopses & Reviews
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A GIRL ON THE FRINGE ENTERS THE REALM OF NEW YORK'S CHIC, PARTY-HOPPING ELITE?
Soon after Bette Robinson quits her horrendous Manhattan banking job like the impulsive girl she's never been, the novelty of walking her four-pound dog around her unglamorous Murray Hill neighborhood wears as thin as the "What are you going to do with your life?" phone calls from her parents. Then Bette meets Kelly, head of Manhattan's hottest PR firm, and suddenly she has a brand-new job where the primary requirement is to see and be seen inside the VIP rooms of the city's most exclusive nightclubs. But when Bette begins appearing in a vicious new gossip column, she realizes that the line between her personal and professional life is...invisible.
"A 27-year-old New York banker quits her job and finds work at a posh PR agency, trading her navy pantsuits for low-slung jeans and skimpy tops so she can hang out with the beautiful people at 'in' places like Bungalow 8 (though first she has to find out what Bungalow 8 is). Weisberger's bestselling The Devil Wears Prada hinged on a similar fish-out-of-water scenario, and while it may have worked then, this time around it feels like a rehash. Bette Robinson begins as a likable enough character, but it isn't long before Weisberger's caricature of her becomes frustrating: Bette is surprisingly successful at her new job, even as she's constantly complaining about 'the ridiculousness of what we were doing' i.e., orchestrating Manhattan social events in such a way that the agency's clients look good in gossip columns. Bette's personal life gets equally ridiculous treatment, as she enters into a 'just for looks' and very public relationship with a British heartthrob who's really gay, as her friends and family (and the guy she really likes) look on in horror. The book occasionally entertains as when it makes jabs at the very critics who panned DWP but not nearly often enough." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Deliciously entertaining." Life magazine
"In addition to the cleverly written and on-point descriptions of the glitzy, invitation-only red carpet events...Weisberger tells us a solid story about a young woman figuring out how to live life on her own terms." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Despite the overabundant name and brand-dropping, this is a solid sophomore novel from Weisberger...who gives us a smart, complex character to root for in Bette." Library Journal
"Weisberger's attempt to turn the frothy Lizzie Grubman world of Manhattan public relations on its head lacks edge...but Weisberger's fans won't care." Kirkus Reviews
What happens when a girl on the fringe enters the realm of New York's chic, party-hopping elite?
Soon after Bette Robinson quits her horrendous Manhattan banking job like the impulsive girl she's never been, the novelty of walking her four-pound dog around her unglamorous Murray Hill neighborhood wears as thin as the What are you going to do with your life? phone calls from her parents. Then Bette meets Kelly, head of Manhattan's hottest PR firm, and suddenly she has a brand-new job where the primary requirement is to see and be seen inside the VIP rooms of the city's most exclusive nightclubs. But when Bette begins appearing in a vicious new gossip column, she realizes that the line between her personal and professional life is...invisible.
From the bestselling author of "The Devil Wears Prada," comes a rollicking tale about what happens when a girl on the fringe enters the realm of New York's monied, party-hopping elite.
About the Author
Lauren Weisberger graduated from Cornell University. Her first novel, The Devil Wears Prada, was on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list for six months. It has been published in twenty-seven countries. She lives in New York.
Reading Group Guide
Everyone Worth Knowing
By Lauren Weisberger
For the five years following college, Bette Robinson has been employed at a tony New York investment bank. It's a job everyone detests -- her hippie parents, who'd hoped she'd pursue activist interests; her society columnist uncle, Will, who at the very least abhors the bank's conservative dress code; and Bette herself, whose life seems to revolve around endless work hours answering to a mind-numbingly idiosyncratic boss, and tending to her dog Millington. Perhaps her best friend's engagement is the trigger, but Bette soon finds one of her boss's daily adages one too many, and quits like the impulsive girl she's never been. Though her parents push for her to do something "meaningful" with her life, Uncle Will introduces her to his former protégé, Kelly, and soon Bette finds herself with a coveted -- if antithetical -- job as an events planner at one of NYC's hottest outfits.
Bette's "work" takes her into the VIP lounges of the hottest celebrity- and socialite-filled New York City nightclubs every night of the week. It's a glamorous job, but Bette learns not to blink at the famous faces, the black Amex cards, velvet ropes, and paparazzi snapping pics of her coworkers and cohorts. When the "It" boy du jour, Philip Weston, takes a shine to her, Bette soon finds that the line between her personal and professional lives is...invisible. When her name begins appearing in the city's most salacious (and popular) gossip column, "New York Scoop," Bette is horrified; her coworkers, envious; Penelope, hurt; Uncle Will, concerned; and Kelly, elated. The column is penned under the pseudonym, Ellie Insider. Bette can't help but wonder who's feeding the column such intimate -- and often untruthful -- details; and who on earth "Ellie Insider" might be?
1. From Bette's perspective, what is it like to live in New York City? What is gratifying about living there, and what is frustrating? Does Bette's "own private palace" (page 6) in Manhattan sound like somewhere you would want to live? Why or why not?
2. Bette's book club meetings "more closely resembled group therapy than any sort of literary exploration" (page 47). Is this a book club you can relate to? Do you think it's more important for a book group to discuss literature, or to enjoy each other's company? Or are both activities important?
3. On the surface, "Philip fit the ideal of the romantic hero more closely than any guy I'd met before" (page 141). How do Bette's early impressions of Philip compare to her attraction to Sammy, whom she initially disliked? What does this imply about the reliability of first impressions? Do you generally trust your first impressions of somebody?
4. In chapter 19, we learn that Bette spent her high school years writing letters about important world issues. How does her old letter-writing hobby embody the idealism of her youth? What one activity could symbolize Bette's current lifestyle? Would you say that Bette is still an idealist? Why or why not?
5. Bette describes the "message" of the Blackberry party, and event-planning in general, as "you - whoever you are and wherever you're reading about this fabulous event - must own one [Blackberry] so that you, too, may be young, hip, urban, and cool" (page 217). Before you read this book, were you aware of the time, effort, and money involved in event-planning? Do you think this form of marketing works? Why or why not?
6. Bette and Sammy are both carrying Lonely Planet guidebooks when they meet in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. What does this suggest about their compatibility? How does it set them apart from the rest of the traveling group?
7. Bette briefly curses romance novels, "because they just made it too easy to maintain totally unreasonable expectations" (page 359). Do you agree that fiction fosters unrealistic hopes? Are these high expectations helpful in life and love, or a recipe for disappointment?
8. How would this story be different if Bette's character were a man? If a male event planner were linked to a socialite, would the press react differently? Would a male character's boss, friends, and parents have different reactions than the people in Bette's life?
9. If you've read The Devil Wears Prada, how does Bette's experience in the working world compare to that of Andrea, the heroine of Weisberger's previous novel? How do you think these portrayals of women at work - one right after college, one five years after college - compare?
10. Despite her outlandish adventures - from nightclubbing with millionaires in Istanbul, to gaining notoriety in the gossip columns - did you find yourself relating to Bette? What aspects of her character do you find universal?
11. What lesson is implied in the title of the book? Who is "everyone worth knowing?" How do they differ from the people on The List at Bette's former employer, Kelly and Company? Do you agree with Bette's choices of people worth knowing? Who is on your own personal Everyone Worth Knowing list?
Enhance Your Book Club:
1. Give your book club meeting a theme of glam! If you're the host, mix a pitcher of "mocktails" - as fabulous as cocktails but without the alcohol - and serve them in style. Find fun drink recipes here: http://cocktails.about.com/library/recipes/blmocktails.htm. Plastic martini glasses are $5.95 for a set of 20 at www.orientaltrading.com, and should also be available at your local party store.
2. Write a fictional gossip column item about another member of the book group. Pretend you have the "scoop" on her wild behavior at a place she frequents, even if it's just the local grocery store! For inspiration, revisit some of Ellie Insider's pieces, found on pages 170, 266, and 306.
3. Take your book club to a Turkish restaurant, for a taste of what Bette enjoyed in Istanbul. If there isn't a restaurant in your area, cook an authentic Turkish dish for your book club. You can find recipes, and a partial list of Turkish restaurants across America, here: http://www.anatolia.com/anatolia/cooking/default.asp.