Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Last Night at Chateau Marmont is Chick Lit at Its Best. Thank You, Lauren Weisberger!

The only book I've read lately in a matter of hours was Lauren Weisberger's latest novel Last Night at Chateau Marmont. Yes, Weisberger is the writer of The Devil Wears Prada, which I would assume most people know through the Anne Hathaway film based on the book. While I did like the film version, the book (as they usually are) was much better. I loved the book; recognized the people in the book. (Not actually -- just the type.)

In college, I worked at a high-end women's clothing boutique. We featured small designers like Tracy Reese, Susana Monaco, Nanette Lepore; a few bigger names like Max Studio, BCBG, and Diane Von Furstenberg; and denim by (the now defunct) Blue Cult, AG, and Paper Denim & Cloth. Not to mention fabulous tees by James Perse and candles by Tocca. I list all those to say: I knew people who were like the characters in The Devil Wears Prada. The fashion-obsessed. The demanding. The "with it". Even for those unfamiliar with the labels peppered throughout, Weisberger's first novel was a delight.

With her next novel -- Everyone Worth Knowing -- Weisberger delved into the PR world as she did with the fashion world in The Devil Wears Prada. I ate it up; Bette Robinson was almost as likable a main character as Devil's Andrea Sachs (a.k.a. Anne Hathaway). Weisberger almost lost my fandom with her third novel Chasing Harry Winston. I didn't despise it (as many critics did), but I certainly didn't enjoy it, either.

So fast-forward to 2010 and the release of Weisberger's latest novel Last Night at Chateau Marmont. As has been her pattern with her books, Weisberger picks a theme and sticks with it -- in this case, the recording industry. (Previously: Devil - fashion world; Everyone - PR world; Chasing - er, socialite world?) As she did with the fashion industry and the PR world, Weisberger knocks it out of the park with this novel-disguised-as-social-commentary.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont is the story of a couple -- Brooke and Julian. Brooke is a nutritionist at a local hospital who loves what she does, and she's good at it. She's been breaking her back, working two jobs for several years, so that she can support her other half. Julian worked as an intern at Sony, got a recording deal, and has slowly been recording an album -- for no pay, of course. In fact, his "deal" that seemed like a lot of money has actually put them more into debt, what with studio fees and the salary that goes to his new manager.

As Julian wraps his record, though, an amazing thing starts to happen -- he's actually getting noticed. After being featured at a local nightclub, Julian's career rockets him into stardom. Brooke can now quit one of her jobs -- or both -- but does she really want to? After all, she worked hard in graduate school to enter a career field she was passionate about. While Julian begins traveling all over the globe, touring, doing late-night television, and partying with other celebs, Brooke struggles to coordinate her schedule with his, to the detriment of her job (and possibly, their relationship).

Weisberger's new novel gives readers insight into the recording industry, but it also offers a good, old-fashioned, well-written plot. I read the entire novel in about six hours, sitting on a boat on Dale Hollow Lake in the sun. A perfect novel for a weekend read or a beach vacation, Last Night at Chateau Marmont has put Weisberger back on my radar. And left me wondering, of course, when another Weisberger book will make it onto the big screen.

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