"DiSclafani’s story sparkles like the jumbo diamonds her characters wear to one-up each other. Historical fiction lovers will linger over every lush detail." —People
From the bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls comes a story of lifelong female friendship – in all its intimate agony and joy – set within a world of wealth, beauty, and expectation.
Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1950s Houston social scene. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, she dominates the room and the gossip columns. Every man wants her; every woman wants to be her. Devoted to Joan since childhood, Cece Buchanan is either her chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on whom you ask. But when Joan’s radical behavior escalates the summer they are twenty-five, Cece considers it her responsibility to bring her back to the fold, ultimately forcing one provocative choice to appear the only one there is.
A thrilling glimpse into the sphere of the rich and beautiful at a memorable moment in history, The After Party unfurls a story of friendship as obsessive, euphoric, consuming, and complicated as any romance.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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Copyright © 2016 Anton DiSclafani
The Shamrock Hotel was wildcatter Glenn McCarthy's green baby. Sixty-three shades to be exact: green carpet, green chairs, green tablecloths, green curtains. Green uniforms. The hotel sat next to the Texas Medical Center, which Monroe Dunaway Ander son had founded and bequeathed nineteen million dollars to in his will. It was like that, in Houston: there was money everywhere, and some people did very good things with it, like Mr. Anderson, and some people built glamorous, foolish structures, like Mr. McCarthy. Mr. Anderson helped more people than Mr. McCarthy, certainly, but where did we have more fun?
The rest of the country was worried about the Russians, worried about the Commies in our midst, worried about the Koreans. But Houston's oil had washed its worries away. This was the place where a wealthy bachelor had bought himself a cheetah and let it live on his patio, swim in his pool; where a crazy widower flew in caviar and flavored vodka once a month for wild soirees where everyone had to speak in a Russian accent; where Silver Dollar Jim West had thrown silver coins from his chauffeur-driven limo, then pulled over to watch the crowds' mad scramble. The bathroom fixtures at the Petroleum Club were all plated in twenty-four-karat gold. There was a limited supply of gold in the world; it would not regenerate. And Houston had most of it, I was convinced.
We valeted our car and headed straight to the Shamrock's Cork Club; Louis, our Irish, gray-haired bartender, was there, and he handed me a daiquiri, Joan a gin martini, up, and Ray a gin and tonic.
"Thank you, doll," Joan said, and Ray slid a folded-up packet of money across the bar.
That night we were all in attendance: the aforementioned Darlene, dressed in a lavender dress with, I had to admit, a beautiful sweetheart neckline; Kenna, Darlene's best friend, who was very nice and very boring; and Graciela, who went by Ciela. Ciela had been a scandal when she was born, the product of her father's affair with a beautiful Mexican girl he'd met while working in the oil refineries down in Tampico. His ex-wife had been rewarded for his sin—she'd received the biggest divorce settlement in Texas history. All of this was old news, though. There had been bigger divorce settlements since then, much bigger. It was Texas: everything bigger, all the time.
Ciela's father had married the señorita, was still married to the señorita, which perhaps would have been the greater scandal, if he weren't already so powerful. We all had that in common, save me: powerful fathers. And husbands who would become powerful. And we were going to go there with them.
Darlene kissed Joan on both cheeks and then turned to me, "Long time no see, Cece," and then laughed uproariously at the repetition. She was already loaded. "You look like Leslie Lynnton herself," she said, and even though I looked nothing like Liz Taylor, aside from the dark hair, I was pleased. We'd all seen Giant at least three times, were titillated by the fact the James Dean character was based on Glenn McCarthy himself, even though we publicly hated Edna Ferber and her portrayal of Texas.
Ciela, whose hair was now so blond and coiffed she looked as Mexican as Marilyn Monroe, was on the arm of her husband, and Darlene and Kenna's husbands were across the room, smoking. My own husband was at my side; Ray was quiet, a little bit reserved, most comfortable near me. He wasn't shy, exactly, but he didn't feel the need to be the center of anything, a rarity in our crowd.
The night wasn't full of possibility for us wives, like it used to be, like it still must have been for Joan. Yet the champagne was crisp and cheerful, the men were handsome and strong, and the music buoyed our spirits. I was wearing a beautiful silver dress, strapless, cinched at the waist. (Ray made a good living at Shell but my mother had left her small fortune to me, and because of it I wore astonishing clothes. My one extravagance. My mother had always refused to touch the money, thought my father should earn more. And so it was mine, granted to me in a legacy of bitterness, in lieu of parental attention. I was determined to spend it all.) My wrist was encircled by my fourteenth-birthday present, a delicate diamond watch I only took out when I was feeling hopeful. Later tonight we might venture outside, to the Shamrock's pool, which happened to be the biggest outdoor pool in the world, built to accommodate waterskiing exhibitions. Joan loved to dive from their high board, said it felt like flying. Or maybe we'd make our way to the Emerald Room, the Shamrock's nightclub.