Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Julie's Review: Everybody Rise


Author: Stephanie Clifford
Series: None
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 384
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Brilliant novel about trying to make it in NYC society
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: It's 2006 in the Manhattan of the young and glamorous. Money and class are colliding in a city that is about to go over a financial precipice and take much of the country with it. At 26, bright, funny and socially anxious Evelyn Beegan is determined to carve her own path in life and free herself from the influence of her social-climbing mother, who propelled her through prep school and onto the Upper East Side. Evelyn has long felt like an outsider to her privileged peers, but when she gets a job at a social network aimed at the elite, she's forced to embrace them. Recruiting new members for the site, Evelyn steps into a promised land of Adirondack camps, Newport cottages and Southampton clubs thick with socialites and Wall Streeters. Despite herself, Evelyn finds the lure of belonging intoxicating, and starts trying to pass as old money herself. When her father, a crusading class-action lawyer, is indicted for bribery, Evelyn must contend with her own family's downfall as she keeps up appearances in her new life, grasping with increasing desperation as the ground underneath her begins to give way. Bracing, hilarious and often poignant, Stephanie Clifford's debut offers a thoroughly modern take on classic American themes - money, ambition, family, friendship - and on the universal longing to fit in. ~amazon.com  

Review: Everybody Rise is one of those novels where it's very easy to get caught up in the world that the author is trying to warn you about. In this one, it's the NYC society circle. It's easy to look from the outside in and see how their lives are easy and breezy. No one works or if they do it's flexible enough for them to get to do all the charity work that comes with being in society. Evelyn, aka Ev, desperately wants to be a part of this inner circle. She thinks that her new job as Director of Memberships for People Like Us will catapult her into this group. People Like Us is Facebook for the elite, so the members have to be recruited to sign up.

Ev finds herself going to all the places she's longed to go and being invited to all the posh parties. When she strikes up a friendship with Camilla Rutherford her place in society seems to be cemented.  Especially when Camilla asks her to be part of the board for a Debutante Ball.

There are a few problems with this situation with Ev: 1) She doesn't come from money 2) She's sending money she doesn't have to live the same lifestyle as the ones that do come from money 3) She's turning into a bitch. Not only that but her "standing" in society is about to take a huge hit with the problems her father has created.

Evelyn is an interesting character because most of the time you want to shake her/smack her to wake up and see that these people aren't her friends. They only want people to add to their posse, to pal around with for lunch and charity functions. They don't know what it's like to have to work and to pay your bills. It isn't long after Evelyn's "made it" that she has a gigantic fall from her pedestal. It's not all that public but humiliating for someone who thought she had become society.

What Ms. Clifford does is peel back the society pages and gives us a glimpse into the world behind the photos and charity lunches. It isn't all what it's cracked up to be; that there may be a dark side. Evelyn finds herself very much caught up in the game and loses herself, her friends and her family.  There's a lot that goes into why she strives for acceptance into this group and I won't spoil it for you.

I think this appeals to readers on a few different levels. First, most of us are a wee bit curious about the elite. Even if it's just how they keep their money for generations because it is old money. Secondly, how do they go to lunches, balls and have fabulous houses without working a ton? Thirdly, what are their deep dark secrets? Let's face it, there will be. We don't get anything too demented but life isn't all champagne and parties.

Evelyn might not be the most likable character at time especially when she casts Charlotte and Preston aside. They might be from influential families but they were also true, real friends. They loved Evelyn for who she was, not what she could bring to the party.

Ms. Clifford obviously spent a great deal of time researching the background of how these families live, vacation and earn their fortunes. Just the debutante ball research has to be intriguing. I might have fallen down a rabbit hole with that one.

If you are looking for a great end of summer/beginning of fall read, don't miss Everybody Rise. I will be pushing this one on everyone.

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