Glamorous Disasters

Eliot Schrefer, Author . Simon & Schuster $23.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-7432-8167-6

Schrefer's debut novel about an SAT tutor to the children of Manhattan's elite bears a superficial resemblance to The Nanny Diaries , but his well-plotted morality tale offers no comic relief. Noah is fresh out of Princeton—a brainy 24-year-old who worked his way out of an impoverished, rural Virginia childhood and wants to be a professor—to "make it into a more genteel world." To pay off $80,000 in college loans, Noah, who lives in Harlem, tutors the children of Fifth Avenue families like the Thayers for $395 an hour, regretting the leg up he gives these already advantaged kids. The megamoney manager father and youthful, pediatrician mother are referred to only as "Mr. and Dr. Thayer" throughout. Mr. Thayer is largely absent and Dr. Thayer competes with her 16-year-old daughter, Tuscany, while ghostwriting essays for her 17-year-old druggie lacrosse-playing son, Dylan. When Dylan's scores don't improve despite Noah's best efforts, Dr. Thayer offers Noah a Faustian bargain that would settle his loans at the cost of his scruples. Schrefer (a private tutor himself) confirms what we always suspected about the über-rich, tempering the novel's easy momentum and voyeurism with insightful if plodding class-conscious social critique: "The scale of money looms here, is too large to be comprehended, like geologic time to a human life span." (May)

Reviewed on: 02/13/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-3188-3
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-7432-8168-3
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