Emily Charlton, the beleaguered assistant-turned-successful Hollywood image consultant, teams up with a former ace lawyer-turned-Greenwich stay-at-home mom to retain the services of an A-list model and politician's wife. By the best-selling author of The Devil Wears Prada.
Scandal is Emily Charlton's stock-in-trade. As a former assistant to cutthroat fashion editor Miranda Priestly (both last seen in The Devil Wears Prada, 2003), Emily has had her own feet to the fire more than once, so she is singularly qualified to help A-listers such as J Lo, Jen, Ben, and Brad wiggle out of an awkward situation. Lately, though, she has been losing clients to a rival upstart and may be facing a career working with those a lot farther down the alphabet. Having traveled to Manhattan from her home in L.A. only to be fired yet again, Emily calls on her old friend Miriam, now ensconced in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, for some TLC. A onetime lawyer turned stay-at-home mom, Miriam may not be well suited to give career advice, but when another gal pal, Karolina Hartwell, gets unceremoniously dumped by her husband, a powerful senator with his eye on the White House, Miriam presses Emily into service to salvage Karolina's reputation. As always, Weisberger's timely social satire packs some bite along with the pop-culture froth. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The return of characters from Weisberger's most popular book will propel her latest to the top. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Weisberger (The Singles Game, 2016, etc.) gives rich-lit fans a second spinoff of her best-known novel, The Devil Wears Prada, shifting her lens from long-suffering Andrea Sachs to Emily Charlton, the snippy fashionista who worked as top assistant to Runway magazine's hellish editor, Miranda Priestly. A decade after leaving Runway, Emily has successfully reinvented herself as a celebrity stylist and image consultant specializing in crisis management. But it's her own career that's in jeopardy when a hotshot rival starts luring away Emily's Hollywood clients with millennial social media superpowers. Emily needs a big win or she may as well pack it up and head back to Runway. Thankfully, her childhood friend Miriam Kagan has just the gig for her. Miriam recently moved to tony Greenwich, Connecticut, where former supermodel and current senator's wife Karolina Hartwell is hiding out after a brush with the law. Something about Karolina's DUI arrest just doesn't add up, though. Mir iam dusts off her Harvard law degree and Emily kicks into high gear, discovering their friend Karolina has been set up by her husband, an ambitious politician with his eye on the White House. Now the three friends must take him down. Having a kick-ass girl posse is not only great fun, but essential for survival in this town filled with moms obsessed with SoulCycle, trophy kids, and plastic surgery—including having their vaginas "custom fit" for their husbands. In one scene, a designer-clad mom hosts a sex-toy party where the constant drumbeat is fear that husbands will abandon wives who aren't smokin' hot and sexually available at all times. (Every sex toy is discussed in terms of how much pleasure it will bring the men.) Emily, Miriam, and Karolina pose a refreshing contrast to the Greenwich moms who all seem to be swimming in the extremely shallow end of the pool. With rich people behaving scandalously on every page, this lemon is juicy and delicious. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
When Life Gives You Lululemons
Again with the Nazi Getup?
Emily racked her brain. There had to be something to complain about. This was New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, one of the most annoying nights of the year in arguably the most annoying city known to humanity. So why couldn’t she think of a thing?
She sipped her skinny margarita from her chaise and watched her husband’s beautiful body cut through the water like a moving art installation. When Miles emerged, he propped himself on the back of the lit infinity pool, where the turquoise water appeared to spill over the side and straight down the mountain. Behind him, the lights from the valley twinkled for miles, making the city look alluring, even sexy. Night was the only time Los Angeles really shone. Gone were the smog and the junkies and the soul-crushing traffic, all replaced by an idyllic vista of night sky and silently twinkling lights—as if God Himself had descended into the Hollywood Hills and selected the most perfect Snapchat filter for His least favorite city on earth.
Miles smiled at her and she waved, but when he motioned for her to join him, she shook her head. It was unseasonably warm, and all around her, people were partying in that intensely determined way that happened only on New Year’s Eve after midnight: This will be the most fun we’ve ever had; we will do and say outrageous things; we are loving our lives and everyone around us. The massive hot tub was packed with a dozen revelers, all with drinks in hand, and another group sat around the perimeter, content to dangle their feet while they waited for a few inches of space to free up. On the deck above the pool a DJ blasted remixed hip-hop, and dancers everywhere—on the patio, in the pool, on the pool deck, streaming in and out of the house—all moved happily to his playlist. On the chair to Emily’s left, a young girl wearing only bikini bottoms straddled a guy and massaged his shoulders while her bare breasts dangled freely. She worked her way down his back and began a rather aggressive handling of his glutes. She was twenty-three, twenty-five at most, and while her body was far from perfect—slightly rounded belly and overly curvy thighs—her arms didn’t jiggle and her neck didn’t sag. No crepey anything. Just youth. None of the small indignities of Emily’s own body at thirty-six: light stretch marks on her hips; cleavage with just the smallest hint of sag; some errant dark hairs along her bikini line that just seemed to sprout now willy-nilly, indifferent to Emily’s indefatigable waxing schedule. It wasn’t a horror show, exactly—she still looked thin and tan, maybe even downright hot in her elegant Eres two-piece—but it was getting harder with every passing year.
An unfamiliar 917 number flashed on her phone.
“Emily? This is Helene. I’m not sure if you remember, but we met a couple years ago at the Met Ball.”
Emily looked skyward in concentration. Though the name was familiar, she was having a hard time placing it. Silence filled the air.
“I’m Rizzo’s manager.”
Rizzo. Interesting. He was the new Bieber: the hottest pop star whose fame had skyrocketed when, two years earlier at age sixteen, he’d become the youngest male to win a Grammy for Album of the Year. Helene had moved to Hollywood to join an agency—either ICM or Endeavor, Emily couldn’t remember—but she’d somehow missed the news that Helene now represented Rizzo.
“Of course. How are you?” Emily asked. She glanced at her watch. This was no ordinary call.
“I’m sorry I’m calling so late,” Helene said. “It’s already four a.m. here in New York, but you’re probably in L.A. I feel terrible interrupting . . .”
“No, it’s fine. I’m at Gigi Hadid’s childhood mansion and not nearly as drunk as I should be. What’s up?”
A shriek came from the pool. Two girls had jumped in together, holding hands, and were splashing Miles and a couple of his friends. Emily rolled her eyes.
“Well, I, uh . . .” Helene cleared her throat. “We’re off the record, right?”
“Of course.” This sounded promising.
“I’m not sure I understand the whole story myself, but Riz appeared on Seacrest’s Times Square show earlier tonight—everything was fine, it went off without a hitch. Afterward, I went to meet up with some old college friends, and Rizzo was headed to some party at 1 OAK. Sober, at least when he left me. Happy about his performance.”
“Okay . . .”
“And just this second I got texted a picture from a colleague who works in ICM’s New York office and happens to be at 1 OAK right now . . .”
“And it’s not good.”
“What? Is he passed out? Covered in his own puke? Kissing a guy? Doing lines? Groping an underage girl?”
Helene sighed and began to speak, but she was drowned out by shrieking laughter. In the shallow end, a girl with hot pink hair and a thong bikini had found her way atop Miles’s shoulders for an improvised chicken fight.
“Sorry, can you repeat that? It’s a little chaotic here,” Emily said as she watched the tiny piece of suit fabric wedge even tighter between the girl’s naked ass cheeks, themselves spread straight across the back of Emily’s husband’s neck.
“He appears to be wearing a Nazi costume.”
“Like with a swastika armband and a coordinating headband. Storm trooper boots. The whole nine.”
“Oh, Jesus Christ,” Emily muttered without thinking.
“Well, it’s not great. Prince Harry pulled that stunt forever ago—but we have to work with what we have. I’m not going to lie, I would’ve preferred drugs or boys.”
In the pool, the pink-haired girl on Miles’s shoulders reached behind her back, yanked the tie of her bikini top, and began swinging the top around her head like a lasso.
“First things first: who knows?” Emily asked.
“Nothing has shown up online yet, but of course, it’s only a matter of time.”
“Just so we’re clear: you’re calling to hire me, yes?” Emily asked.
“Okay, then right now I want you to text your colleague and have him get Rizzo into the men’s room and out of that getup. I don’t care if he’s wearing a gold lamé banana hammock, it’s better than the Nazi thing.”
“I already did that. He gave Riz his button-down and shoes, confiscated the armband, and let him keep the trousers, which apparently are bright red. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do, especially since I can’t reach Rizzo directly. But someone will post something any second, I’m sure.”
“Agreed, so listen up. Here’s the plan. You’re going to jump in a cab and head over to 1 OAK and forcibly remove him. Bring a girl or two, it’ll look better, and then get him back to his apartment and don’t let him leave. Sit in front of the damn door if you have to. Do you have his passwords? Actually, forget it—just take his phone. Drop it in the toilet. We need to buy ourselves time without some idiotic drunken tweet from him.”
“Okay. Will do.”
“The first flight out of here is six a.m. I’m going home to pack, and then I’ll head to the airport. The story will definitely break while I’m in the air, if not before. Do not—I repeat, do not—make a statement. Do not let him talk to anyone, not even the delivery guy who brings up the food. Information lockdown, you understand? No matter how bad the photos are, or how horrified the reaction—and trust me, it’s going to be bad—I want no response until I get there, okay?”
“Thank you, Emily. I’m going to owe you for this one.”
“Go now!” Emily said, managing not to utter what she was actually thinking—namely, that the charge for her time and the holiday and the travel was going to take Helene’s breath away.
She took the last sip of her margarita, set the drink on the glass table next to her, and stood up, trying to ignore the couple beside her who may or may not have been having actual intercourse.
“Miles? Honey?” Emily called as politely as she could manage.
“Miles, love? Can you please move her thighs away from your ears for thirty seconds? I have to leave.”
She was pleased to see her husband unceremoniously lower the girl into the water and swim over to the side. “You’re not mad, are you? She’s just some dumb kid.”
Emily knelt. “Of course I’m not mad. If you’re going to cheat, you better pick someone a hell of a lot hotter than that.” She nodded toward the girl, who looked not at all pleased with her wet hair. “I got a call from New York. It’s an emergency with Rizzo. I’m running home to get a bag and hopefully get to LAX for the six a.m. I’ll call you when I land, okay?”
This was hardly the first time Emily had been called away in the middle of something—her surgeon girlfriend claimed Emily had worse call hours than she did—but Miles looked positively stupefied.
“It’s New Year’s Eve. Isn’t there anyone in New York who can handle this?” His unhappiness was obvious, and Emily felt a pang, but she tried to keep it light.
“Sorry, love. Can’t say no to this one. Stay, have fun. Not too much fun . . .” She added the last part to make him feel better—she wasn’t one iota concerned about Miles doing anything stupid. She bent down and pecked his wet lips. “Call you later,” she said, and wove through the throngs to the circular driveway, where one of the cute valets motioned for a Town Car to pull around. He held the door for her, and she flashed him a smile and a ten-dollar bill.
“Two stops, please,” she said to the driver. “First one is on Santa Monica Boulevard, where you’ll wait for me. Then to the airport. And fast.”