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Women About Town Paperback – April 29, 2003
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
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While not a How To guide, certainly a good read for anyone who thinks they want to be a writer or other kind of artist.
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.
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.