Beautiful You

Beautiful You

2.9 10
by Chuck Palahniuk

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"A billion husbands are about to be replaced."

From the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of a new product that gives new meaning to the term "self-help." 

Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm

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"A billion husbands are about to be replaced."

From the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of a new product that gives new meaning to the term "self-help." 

Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan's most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed-of heights of gratification for days on end. What's not to like? This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of feminine products to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called Beautiful You. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell's plan for battery-powered world domination must be stopped. But how?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Palahniuk (Fight Club; Doomed) continues to push limits in this satire of sex and consumerism, in which “the Nerd’s Cinderella,” Penny Harrigan, finds her average self in bed with tech megabillionaire Cornelius Linus Maxwell, dubbed “Climax-well,” the greatest lover ever known. What begins as Penny’s shy sexual exploration quickly becomes experimenting for Maxwell’s research into pleasure products. While enduring erotically induced comas and life-threatening orgasms, Penny moves up the social ladder, meeting Max’s former lovers, actress Alouette D’Ambrosia, and U.S. President Clarissa Hind. But as he did with his previous lovers, Maxwell dumps Penny on exactly day 136 of their relationship, and then releases his Beautiful You personal care products to the public—a revolutionary event that marks men’s obsolescence and turns women into titillated zombies. While women withdraw to their rooms for days and weeks, Penny learns that Max has much more power than anyone realizes. Men in suits following Penny and a Nepalese sex witch discuss the power of trends and brands, and the choice of self-pleasure over intimate human contact all contribute to Palahniuk’s satire. His cheeky wit is at its best in this grotesque novel; his semi-erotic writing is efficacious and there are some downright beautiful scenes. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Beautiful You:

"Sex is on the mind of author Chuck Palahniuk, and it is taken to extremes and tweaked to outrageous lengths in his latest novel, Beautiful You50 Shades of Grey this isn't. In fact, the book is almost a middle finger to "mommy porn" and the popularity of modern erotica — while also being a smart, satirical take on misogyny, fame, the fashion industry, self-help and science... Palahniuk's graphic storytelling is bound to ruffle puritanical feathers—which is probably part of his point—but it's essential to the societal takedown. Nothing is sacred and everything gets torched, from pop culture (at one point vampire novels are used as thrown weapons, an obvious Twilight reference) to celebrity."
USA Today

"[Palahniuk's] legion of fans will adore all its excesses.... [G]reat fun..."
San Francisco Chronicle

"The author of Fight Club offers barbed social satire that turns Aristophanes’ Lysistrata sideways; giving readers something to talk about."
Library Journal

"Palahniuk continues to push limits in this satire of sex and consumerism... His cheeky wit is at its best in this grotesque novel; his semi-erotic writing is efficacious and there are some downright beautiful scenes."
Publishers Weekly

"...[A] subtle and empathic piece of work."
Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
Lowly law-firm associate Penny Harrigan is surprised to be wined and dined by C. Linus Maxwell, multibillionaire and squire to the world's most traffic-stopping women. But he has an ulterior motive: he's using her to test a line of sex toys so pleasure-inducing that women desert men in droves. What are men to do? Barbed social satire.
Kirkus Reviews
Less macho than most of Palahniuk's work, this Cinderella-with-sex-toys parable is the transgressive writer's attempt at a feminist (or post-feminist) novel. Ever since he debuted with Fight Club (1996), the prolific Palahniuk has built a cult following by taking a series of provocative ideas and pushing them to the limit. And then past the limit. Here, the gimmick is a series of sex products designed for women, so effective that one satisfied customer exclaims, "Men are obsolete!...Anything a man can do to me, I can do better!" Women disappear from the public sphere to pleasure themselves in private, leaving "[a] world of furious, obsolete penises." Though sex saturates the novel, its description is more clinical than libidinous, and the protagonist isn't focused only on one thing. Penny Harrigan is something of an all-American girl, an obedient daughter who has moved from Nebraska to work in a New York law firm. She idolizes the nation's first female president and is told by the man who will change her life—and the course of the world—"I love you because you're so average." That man is C. Linus Maxwell, who "ran a group of corporations that led the world in computer networking, satellite communications, and banking" and who has become known in the tabloids as "Climax-Well." They make for an improbable pair, particularly after his series of highly-publicized relationships with glamorous women, but it turns out that the mogul has long had big plans for Penny, ones that will show her not only the aptness of his nickname, but reveal to her his commercial plans "to enter the empty field of vaginas in a big way." Their relationship ends, and they soon find themselves antagonists, as Penny warns the women of the world that their sexual liberation represents a more insidious form of coercion, based on "the idea of combining ladies' two greatest pleasures: shopping and sex." By Palahniuk's standards, this is actually a subtle and empathic piece of work.

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

CHUCK PALAHNIUK is the author of thirteen novels—Doomed, Damned, Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Diary, Lullaby, Choke, Invisible Monsters, Survivor, and Fight Club—which all have sold more than five million copies in the United States. He is also the author Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit him on the web at

Brief Biography

Portland, Oregon
Date of Birth:
February 21, 1962
Place of Birth:
Pasco, Washington
B.A. in journalism, University of Oregon, 1986

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Beautiful You 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over a little more than the last year, I've read all of Chuck Palahniuk's books. I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of them but some, for example, Pygmy, not so much.  So, of course, I dutifully pre-ordered Beautiful You.  Unfortunately, Beautiful You is more Pygmy than Choke or Lullaby or Rant.  It's kind of a one trick pony and very predictable.  A reviewer on another site found consolation in the fact that it is a short read at 222 pages.  Even at that, it took me an uncharacteristically  long time to get through it.  The writing just lacks the vibrancy of most of his other novels.  If you are already a Palahniuk fan, by all means, read it and decide for yourself.  If you are just trying him for the first time, this isn't the place to start.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is CLASSIC PALAHNIUK! I LOVED IT! I burned through it in a day! I agree that if you have never read any of his work, you might want out a little less traumatic as this piece will be a BRUTAL shock to some readers! At times he had me writhing in the characters pain and sharing their extasy! Only a couple times I felt as if he over wrote a scene. It was the cave dwelling parts seemed a bit of a stretch. Maybe possibly when the crone shows up at the church??? A bit over played? All in all its a CRAZY RIDE that every Chuck Palahniuk fan has to take! Best have some Pink Champagne close whilst you are reading! Just not the cheap stuff...
Anonymous 4 months ago
Never get comfortable or Chuck Palahniuk will come for you....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book during a signing. People were saying great things about Chuck Palahniuk's writings. The story line caught my attention, however, the only reason I finished the book is because I thought it would get better. The author describes details about his characters and the inventions which he seems to forget about by the end of the book. I often found myself saying, “What? That doesn’t make sense.” It was confusing and unbelievable. The main female characters were very unbelievable. This could have been a good book if it had been better developed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book to an extent, but a lot of it was too cliche. We expect from Palahniuk a kind of writing that pushes beyond the boundaries of what most people are comfortable with reading.  This book does just that, but its to a point that's almost more irritating than anything. Come on Chuck... The ability to shoot a literal hyper audio beam from a vagina? A 200 year old sex mystic? Flaming dildos that destroy the city? All in all, the book just seemed too much like Palahniuk was running out of decent ideas. 3 stars because Palahniuk still blew my mind away with how he describes detail in writing.
drmar More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time even giving this one star. It is such a debasement of woman and beyond ridiculous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book not what I expected but it was enjoyable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh boy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ugh. None of the characters were very fully developed or were confusingly described. Was the antagonist a charming seducer or a cold scientist? The protagonist was even less developed. Premise is intriguing but some of the plot elements (the sex witch for instance living up on Mt Everest) were just too fantastical for my tastes. I have the bad habit of reading books even I dislike all the way through, always hoping for a payback. The ending was silly, so no payback.