cover image Social Creature

Social Creature

Tara Isabella Burton. Doubleday, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-54352-1

Fans of the cult classic Poison Ivy will appreciate the mousy girl–wild girl dynamic on display in Burton’s fiendishly clever debut. At 29, insecure Louise Wilson is a would-be writer living in fear of the dictum, “if you haven’t made it in New York by 30, you never will.” All that changes when she meets 23-year-old socialite Lavinia Williams, who seems to be channeling the free spirit of the late Zelda Fitzgerald (with flapper dresses to match). Larger-than-life Lavinia takes Louise under her wing and introduces her new bestie to a Manhattan she never knew existed, including parties in haunted hotels and secret bookstores and people with names like Beowulf Marmont and Athena Maidenhead, all the while dressing as if for a costume ball that never ends. Only later does Louise experience the hateful, spiteful, jealous side of Lavinia’s personality in what becomes an ingenious dark thriller in the Patricia Highsmith Tom Ripley mode. Louise and Lavinia are bold, brilliant characters. This devious, satisfying novel perfectly captures a very narrow slice of the Manhattan demimonde. [em]Agent: Emma Parry, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (June) [/em]