Crazy for Cornelia

Chris Gilson, Author Warner Books $32.5 (352p) ISBN 978-0-446-52536-7
It seems there are endless possibilities for the classic Cinderella story, and Gilson's debut novel strives to put yet another twist on the rags-to-riches formula. Kevin Doyle is a downtrodden artist-turned-doorman, working at the entryway of one of New York's poshest buildings, while he himself lives in a slum apartment. One of the tenants in the upscale building is debutante Cornelia Lord, Manhattan's society pages ""It"" girl. Kevin's pursuit of her involves a series of side trips, including a visit to a fortresslike mental hospital for the rich and a foray into a benign cult devoted to the discoverer of electricity, Nikola Tesla. Meanwhile, the couple make an inexorable journey toward matrimony. Despite her lavish lifestyle, Cornelia yearns for deeper meaning after her mother dies, but suffers a nervous breakdown, while steadfast Kevin schemes to save her from the stifling upper crust. Colorful city settings include the club scene and the downtown art world, as well as the haunts of millionaire power brokers, but while the scenes set there can be mildly amusing, they are unconvincing. Gilson often fails to capture the atmosphere of his settings, relying instead on a hyperbolic repetition of the monstrous folly of downtown hipsters and uptown bigwigs alike. He also uses offputting language to describe his characters: a haughty businessman's ""buttocks boil"" while another's ""ambition always thundered like hoofbeats under the skin."" Somewhat more disturbing are the occasional stereotypes: while Corny's ""creamy skin belonged to the world of Fifth Avenue,"" she's at home slumming at the marketplace with ""broad-faced Koreans."" The second half of the novel is more accomplished stylistically, and the main characters emerge as sweetly likable, suggesting that, with its cinematic images and familiar story, this book may be a candidate for rebirth as a ""family"" movie. Time Warner audio. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-446-67679-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-2382-0
Open Ebook - 345 pages - 978-0-446-96014-4
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 345 pages - 978-0-7595-9177-6
Open Ebook - 215 pages - 978-0-446-58791-4
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