Full of ambition and grit. Clifford provides sharp-eyed access to a moneyed world and its glamorous inhabitants.” Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers
“A masterful tale of social climbing and entrenched class distinctions . . . Tense, hilarious, and bursting with gorgeous language. Stephanie Clifford is a 21st century Edith Wharton.” J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of The Engagements and Maine
“A superb debut. Everybody Rise is a 21st century version of a grand 19th century novela smart, moving tale of class, ambition, and identity.” Malcolm Gladwell
“A compulsive, up-close-and-personal read about the first cracks in the greed-and-bleed U.S. economy that went flying off the rails so spectacularly a short time later.” Library Journal
The upstart heroine of this debut novel by New York Times reporter Clifford wages a one-woman assault on the old-money snobbery of the Upper East Side, before the Wall Street stock market crash of 2008. Evelyn Beegan, a new-money 26-year-old whose social-climber mother finagled her into the right prep schools, sells her soul in order to succeed in her first job at a social networking site called People Like Us. In order to win over those at the center of the young Upper East Side elite so she can use their names on the PLU site, Evelyn uses her connections from school to wheedle invitations to Adirondack camps and charity events. She spends more money than she has and lies about her own background as she claws to the top of the social heap, shedding integrity and eventually a very nice young man on her way up. Evelyn scores big when she befriends socialite Camilla Rutherford, who gives her access to her parents’ friends and prestigious charity balls, until Evelyn’s deception and the expense of keeping up appearances threatens to overwhelm Evelyn. While this novel displays none of the melancholy irony of the Sondheim song for which it is named, it is an amusing page-turning beach read. But if the author is trying to suggest that after 2008, class and the UES no longer hold sway, her argument is thin. (Aug.)
Twentysomething Evelyn Beegan has just enough social-climbing bona fides (prep school, good college, a somewhat prominent attorney father, a somewhat pedigreed mother) to reach the fringes of 2006 Manhattan high society. When she lands a job with People Like Us, a start-up social media site for superrich young New Yorkers, she is charged with quickly increasing membership. She uses her school friends, her minimal connections, her quick mind, her dogged research skills, and her facility for lying to gain entry into the charity events, regattas, debuts, and stunningly excessive shopping and dining experiences that define the lives of her targets. The deeper she gets, the more she needs, and eventually she pays a price more terrible than the massive debts she runs up trying to buy her way in. Clifford, an award-winning reporter at the New York Times, has penned either a how-to (how-don't?) manual or a cautionary tale for those seeking access to this rarefied world. VERDICT A compulsive, up-close-and-personal read about the first cracks in the greed-and-bleed U.S. economy that went flying off the rails so spectacularly a short time later. [See Prepub Alert, 2/23/15.]—Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
A young woman who works at a tech startup tries to shoehorn her way into New York's high society. The most notable thing about Evelyn Beegan's life so far is that she went to Sheffield Academy, a New England boarding school where the vibe is so preppy that her social-climbing mother, Barbara, bought a used 1985 Mercedes once she realized "none of the old-money mothers would deign to drive a fresh-off-the-lot BMW like the Beegans had shown up in." (Clifford, a New York Times reporter, has a good eye for class markers.) Now Evelyn works at People Like Us, a social networking site trying to recruit "the elite's elite," and she's busy using Sheffield friends such as Preston Hacking, "a Winthrop on his mother's side," to insinuate herself into the exclusive swirl of charity balls and weekends in the Adirondacks where she can engage new members. But it's more than business to Evelyn: she genuinely admires luminaries like Camilla Rutherford, "the clear center of young New York," and concocts ever more elaborate lies about her own background in an attempt to befriend them. Hasn't Evelyn ever heard of Google? It shouldn't be hard for people to find out she was never a debutante in Baltimore, among other things. Having her father, a lawyer who specializes in suing pharmaceutical companies, indicted for bribery isn't a secret she'll be able to keep forever, either. There's been a big debate in the past few years about whether literary characters need to be likable, and of course many great books feature protagonists you wouldn't want to befriend. But Evelyn spends so much time doing such bone-headed things, and for a goal that seems so dated, that's it's hard to work up any interest in what happens to her. Clifford's debut tries to be a Bonfire of the Vanities for our time but doesn't make it.