Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

In brief: Evelyn is somewhat of an outsider amongst her old money school friends due to her lack of wealth and status. When she joins People Like Us (a Facebook style website for the elite) as the membership coordinator, she’s determined to climb to the top of New York’s social scene, no matter the cost.

The good: Completely addictive.

The not-so-good: The train wreck that Evelyn becomes – you can’t stop reading, but it’s a painful slide.

Why I chose it: The cover intrigued me (note: this pic of is of the Australian cover, which is a gorgeous pink compared to the mid-green). Thanks to St Martin’s Press for the eARC.

Year: 2015

Pages: 400

Publisher: St Martin’s Press (Hachette in Australia)

Setting: USA

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

I love the cover of Everybody Rise. So much so that I even bought a pair of chandelier style earrings after seeing the cover (now you know just how shallow I am…and possibly how fitting this book really is! I should add that the earrings were from H&M – the cost of a cup of coffee. I’m not spending beyond my means unlike our heroine…) Before I get completely off track, I just have to say that Everybody Rise is a must read. Not for the summer, not for the winter, just full stop. It’s a wonderful tale of semi-modern New York (2006) that discusses class and wealth in ways not seen since Edith Wharton and F.Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a fun but cautionary tale, yet it’s never boring.

The story is about Evelyn, a young lady trying to make it in New York City. Her mother Barbara is a shameless social climber, sending Evelyn to the ‘right’ schools and berating her for not being married at 26. The story opens at a high school reunion (you have all my sympathy Evelyn). Evelyn has a new job at the start up People Like Us, which is a kind of Facebook meets Trip Advisor/Makeup Alley/Zomato for the moneyed crowd. She’s the membership advisor and she’s determined to get the crème de la crème of young New York society to join. To do that, she has to do some serious social climbing herself (even though Evelyn has always thought her mother’s attempts ridiculous).

Rising above the mainstream to the playpens of the rich and idle isn’t easy when you have to work for your money. Evelyn soon discovers running with the rich requires serious effort, money and spinning an intricate pack of lies. Meanwhile, her family is in trouble and her old friends are disgusted at the trouble she’s in. (For all her education, Evelyn still believes stuffing credit card bills in a drawer makes them go away). Then everything spirals out of control and Evelyn’s downfall is as swift as her rise. What will she do?

The story, although an old one, is brilliantly told. Clifford creates a world that you can’t help but be sucked into. It’s fast, flash and glamourous – who doesn’t want to hear about exclusive parties, fantastic weekends away and gorgeous fashion and foo? She sets up the character of Evelyn very well, encouraging the reader to like her before she becomes frankly, an utter idiot. Evelyn’s weak points are highlighted – she doesn’t feel as rich or deserving as her friends and this leads the reader to even feel a little bit sorry for her as she struggles to keep up with her new crowd. Evelyn’s downfall is something that you can’t look away from. It’s morbidly fascinating and I wondered several times how she would extricate herself from it.

When she does though, it’s somewhat of a letdown. It was all too neatly packaged for me (I swear I wouldn’t get out of a $60 000-odd credit card bill so quickly). I don’t know if I was secretly hoping for it all to be a terrible mess, as payback for the horrible person Evelyn had become or if I’d become used to the crazy things Evelyn was doing. The ending is somewhat redeeming as the Evelyn we once knew makes an appearance. Clifford has the ability to tell a cautionary tale with wit and wisdom in the modern era and make it a compulsive read. I adored it. I’d happily read anything she wrote!

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