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Women About Town Paperback – April 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002773
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,383,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Swapping journalism for fiction, Jacobs (The Art of Haute Couture) laces a gossipy guilty pleasure with feeling and sophisticated wit. Her cosmopolitan protagonists cat fight, take tea and climb professional ladders in New York City's most stylish neighborhoods. Elegant Iris Biddle, once married into an old money Mayflower family, is now divorced and 40. Romantically, she refuses to settle for second best, but is too busy with her career as a designer of stylish lampshades to concentrate on husband hunting. Lana Burton, 34, is a theater critic who writes for a respected dance journal, then lands a plum assignment for Vanity Fair. She has a knack for estranging her slightly older female colleagues, but is able to hold on to Sam, her commitment-phobic boyfriend of two years. The ambitious Manhattanites' concerns sacrificing shopping sprees at Bergdorf's in favor of paying bills, gaining prestige in their respective fields are similar, though they don't meet until the end (they share equal star time in alternating chapters). Jacobs effectively avoids clich‚ by treating Iris and Lana with gravity and respect, making them dedicated and focused on their careers. She also paces the novel quite well and turns an interesting phrase now and again ("wrinkled widows with vinegar voices"). In-the-know followers of Jacobs will indulge themselves, as will the nonurbanite who wants to catch a glimpse into these women's rarified worlds.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Jacobs, a Vanity Fair editor and dance critic with Chicago roots, no doubt drew on elements of her own experiences to create Lana Burton and Iris Biddle, this first novel's two main characters. Burton is a 35-year-old writer with a passion for theater and dance, originally from suburban Chicago, as is 40-year-old Iris, a sophisticated and reserved maker of silk lampshades. The link between them is Deena, the real-estate broker who found their Manhattan apartments and befriended both. The novel alternates between the lives of these two characters. Lana begins to make a name for herself as an arts writer, while worrying that her boyfriend is unwilling to commit. Also worried that she will always be alone, Iris concentrates on finding New Yorkers willing to spend $3,000 on a lampshade. In a way that is neither melodramatic nor patronizing. Jacobs explores the fears and loneliness of women past the age at which society expects them to be married. Quiet prose and well-developed characters distinguish this insightful look at the lives of today's career woman. Beth Warrell
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on August 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This smart and witty novel hits the nail in the head when it comes to New York women's preoccupation with having a successful career. Iris Biddle and Lana Burton have one thing in common: ambition. The two Manhattanites are too caught up in their careers to make room for relationships. Especially Iris who, having experienced a painful divorce, is neither desperate nor inclined to find Soul Mate Number Two. And climbing the corporate ladder is the only thing in Lana's agenda. A theater critic that lands a job in Vanity Fair, she might as well say goodbye to love.
Women About Town is an intelligent novel about the pitfalls of being a career woman in Manhattan. New York is the perfect backdrop for this novel. This is certainly an excellent read and I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Six months after reading this novel I still think of prim, careful Iris and her silk-covered lampshades. The novel is quiet and contained, and does something that few others do: portray the way that women interact with one another -- sometimes nicely, sometimes meanly -- in a balanced and sympathetic way. Anyone who appreciates Jane Austen's Elizabeth and Elanor or felt that a piece of the sad but surviving Mirabelle from Steve Martin's Shopgirl was inside of them would also enjoy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ellen b on July 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You really have to pinch yourself to keep awake for this book. It reminds me of something they made you read in school - you know that there is a lot of stuff going on under the surface, but you don't really care, and you are left waiting for some action. I skipped over entire paragraphs with wordy descriptions of nothing. If you must read this, get it out of the library and save your money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "jdpc" on May 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It doesn't have much of a plot, more of a glimpse into the lives of the main characters. But Iris and Lana are very likable. I disagree with the review comparing it to Sex In The City. These women are much classier than that. This book left me wanting to read more about them. I will be on the look out for any new books by Ms. Jacobs.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bohdan Kot on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Laura Jacobs, a first-time novelist, has written a powerful piece about a pair of women who are thirty-something and unmarried. The two principal characters within "Women About Town" are Iris Biddle and Lana Burton, New York City women who aspire towards a successful career and a loving marriage.

Biddle creates Iris Originals - one-of-a-kind lampshades - a craft that barely keeps her financially afloat. She is reluctantly single after her husband suddenly vanishes to Africa via a Peace Corps mission. Burton is an up-and-coming art critic who is dating Sam - a man who flinches at any notion that brings him closer to the "M" word.

The deftly written chapters on each character leaves us wanting more and asking the proverbial question, "What happens next?" Jacobs' novel is worthy due to its ear for dialog and its ability to capture the emotions within the women's dissatisfied lives. Biddle places a bird ornament upon the Christmas tree and laments, "I'm like you, stuck in old tinsel."

Jacobs writes believably throughout the novel. However, the climax proves to be too perfect as the character's loose ends are brought together rather quickly. The ending is predictable as a box-office movie's last fifteen minutes and is not worthy for the literary writing present beforehand.

Bohdan Kot
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes, it is a "quiet" book --- and, I suppose, the reader is supposed to search beneath the surface to explore the author's subtle inferences, but - why bother??? There is little by way of character development to even care about the people, the plot line was boring, and nothing was said or done that was beyond cursory. A grocery list might have been more entertaining reading. Of course, life is usually mundane, but the author fails to intrigue or even to write in a way that gives the reader new insight or allows us to draw upon our own thoughts or feelings. When I finished the book - a feeling of "so what" crossed my mind and of "ho hum." (Then I usually marvel at some publisher who actually PRINTED such a bunch of nothing fluff.) Usually I pass books along to fellow readers but this one goes directly into the Goodwill bag. Really, don't bother.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had such high hopes for this book after reading several reviews, but find myself terribly disappointed. The plot is shallow (what there is of it) and the main characters are so boring, I didn't care what happened to either of them. For such a short book, there seems to be endless prose that goes nowhere. The characters dwell on every mundane aspect of their lives and you are left with the feeling that they take themselves far too seriously. The NY portrayed in this book is not the city that I know and love, although the rare glimpses that shine through are what makes it readable. Any comparison to "Sex and the City" is mere fantasy--these characters should be that interesting!
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