Everybody wants to belong.It’s 2006 in the Manhattan of the young and glamorous. At 26, bright, funny and socially anxious Evelyn Beegan is determined to free herself from the social-climbing mother who propelled her through prep school and on to the Upper East Side. Evelyn has long felt like an outsider to her privileged peers, but when she gets a job at social network site People Like Us, aimed at the elite, she befriends glamorous queen bee Camilla Rutherford and steps into a promised land of private schools, regattas, second homes and the society pages. Evelyn soon finds the lure of belonging intoxicating and starts trying to pass as old money herself.Her lies start small, but with her lawyer father being investigated by a grand jury, and with money and class colliding in a city that is about to go over a financial precipice, Evelyn’s position on the rickety social ladder begins to shake. After every rise must there be a fall?In the bestselling tradition of social-climbing tales told by an outsider such as The Great Gatsby, The Devil Wears Prada, Prep and Gossip Girl, comes this extraordinary debut novel by Stephanie Clifford.
What I thought….
Everybody Rise centers around Evelyn who is on the outskirts of a world of lake houses, fish knives and prep schools. An alumni herself, Evelyn seeks to use her collegiate contacts to make a splash at her new job – membership director at People Like Us, an elite facebook-esque website.
Evelyn is not particularly likeable, which I always find difficult in a novel. She scorns her mother’s social ambitions, but has her own. Evelyn has no real sense of herself – we see her standing back at gatherings, weighing up her worth and standing in rank order of all around her. Reading ‘Everybody Rise’, you just want to shake Evelyn and tell her to grow into herself a little and appreciate what she has around her, but her insecurity is not endearing. I don’t feel like I was sitting on the sidelines acting as her cheerleader, more than I was skimming through pages muttering to Evelyn ‘just grow up already’.
Everybody Rise is entertaining in the way that going to the zoo is (without the cute factor) where you are looking in on the lives of a different species and marvelling at their idiosyncrasies.
I did grow fonder of Evelyn towards the end of the book, and found this an easy story to follow. There is definitely a place for nice, straightforward novels. You know where you are headed and there is a comfort in that predictability.
I gave Everybody Rise a 7/10.
(Book supplied by Hachette NZ)