Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
Pub: St. Martin’s Press, Aug. 18th 2015
Rating: 4/5 Stars
“An extraordinary debut novel by New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford—a Bonfire of the Vanities for the 21st century mixed with Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Amor Towles’s Rules of Civility.
It’s 2006 in the Manhattan of the young and privileged, and a new generation of heirs and strivers are jockeying for social power and discovering that class, especially on the Upper East Side, still holds sway.
At 26, Evelyn Beegan is the product of new money, propelled by her social-climbing mother through an elite prep school, a posh college, and into Manhattan. Evelyn has always managed to stay just on the periphery of this world her mother so desperately wants her to become a part of. But when she takes a job at a new social networking site aimed at her very elite peers, she’s forced to leverage her few connections to work her way to the front of the pack. With the help of her prep school friends, Evelyn goes from lush “camps” in the Adirondacks and “cottages” in Newport, to Southampton weekends and clubs thick with socialites and Wall Street types, eventually befriending target #1, Camilla Rutherford—a young woman who is a regular on the front page of every society blog.
In order to be accepted by this rarefied set, Evelyn must be seen as someone with established old money. Her lies start small, but quickly grow, and as she relentlessly elbows her way up the social ladder, the ground underneath her begins to give way.” –Summary provided by Goodreads
I saw this book advertised on Shelf Awareness and immediately added it to my to-read pile. You can imagine my excitement when it popped up on NetGalley and I was immediately approved. Going into this I pictured it to be like a “Gossip Girl” for adults and the description looked like something I would definitely be interested in. I predict that it’s going to be a very successful release.
Growing up in New England helped give me a bit of context for this novel. I do feel as though it is aimed to a very specific audience. But, it is a well-written, well-researched novel and I recommend it. It starts out slow but picks up speed as things start to spiral out of control. I won’t say much more about that, but that’s where the book really gets interesting. I think it was a little bit harder for me to get into in the beginning because I’ve been reading mostly YA which is very plot based and fast paced. (Side note, I apologize for not posting in a long time, after the first House of Night I got sucked into ALL of them and well, nobody wants reviews on every book in a series, because that’s just pointless.) Plus, the beginning is mostly learning about characters and their back stories. Don’t give up though, I promise it gets better.
Clifford really hits the nail on the head with little character intricacies and how all of these people fulfill certain roles, and know their place in society. This is definitely a character based story. One of my favorite topics is when authors delve into the complicated mother-daughter relationship and struggles. At the heart of this book is really a girl who is still trying to impress her mother, who never quite made it into the old-money, social climbing, aristocratic world. Her mother groomed her for the life she always wanted to live.
Evelyn is not really somebody that you feel bad for, it’s kind of a “you made your bed, now sleep in it” situation. But, watching how the society around her and her drive to fit into it changes her is quite intriguing and masterfully done. You can see how she got to where she is and throughout the book I found myself thinking, ohh no honey no. She is a little bit reckless and can be naïve, often losing touch with reality. She would rather escape from her problems than deal with them. Clifford did a good job creating three-dimensional characters.
Something I really liked was that the ending wasn’t perfectly tied up into a nice bow, it’s a little open-ended, which really fits for the book.
I want to leave you with a quote that I think sums up this world of East Coast social elite that’s pretty early on in the book: “Without any actual aristocracy in America, the best those who wanted to be upper class could do was create systems of exclusivity and codes of conduct.”