“This novel is everything that it claims to be, an amusing inside look at the codes, manners, and morals of high society, and it’s nothing more.So if you don’t want to read a comedy of manners, then don’t. It’s sort of what I imagine Austen’s works were like when they were first published and reactions were similar to the Goodreads reviewer’s.
Now don’t get me wrong, Austen is in a league of her own, but I felt David-Weill did a great jog overall and held her own in ‘high society’ literature. Although the language wasn’t as beautiful, I thought of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which I need to reread) and I don’t think you’d be too far a miss to compare the two. In addition I appreciated that the story was broken up based on days and meals and that menus (and recipes!) were included. I love a book that mentions a lot of food and then includes the recipes, a la Frances Mayes.
I worried going into the novel that I wouldn’t appreciate this book as the majority of the high society and comedy of manners novels I read are at least 100 years old. However, I did enjoy it and appreciated David-Weill’s witticisms and observations such as the following,
“Knowing people can mean so many things. It’s like books: there are plenty of gradations between the books one has read and those one hasn’t. There are the books one has heard of, those with a plot or style we already know by heart, those we can tell by their cover, those whose jacket copy we’ve read. Those we want to read and those we never will. One can also read a book and forget it—in fact, that’s my specialty—or just skim through it. It’s the same way with people.” (29)
This isn’t the first time I’ve read a comparison of people to books, but this is one of the better explained versions.
What I was most worried about was the celebrity/celebutant culture overtaking the high society culture, but thankfully it didn’t. The narrator, Laure, had a distinct voice and I thought provided great observations of how she grew up (and lives) with the new money celebrities and business men without coming across as hoity-toity.”
Posted on February 15, 2013