Thursday, September 18, 2008

Review: The Perfect Manhattan

The Perfect Mahattan by Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey
3 stars

Reasons for reading: sounded fun; Bourbon Heritage Month for Holiday Challenge, New York setting for Triple 8 Challenge

Book description (edited): Meet Columbia grad and aspiring screenwriter Cassie Ellis. Eager to avoid an office job (even if it's for US Weekly) but needing to pay off her student loans, she shocks everyone she knows by opting for a sexier, more flexible job: mixing drinks. Never mind that she doesn’t know single-malt whiskey from Jack Daniel’s: she’s eager to learn. With the help of a bar owner she happens to meet while out for a graduation dinner with her parents, she’s soon cranking out three-olive martinis with the city’s glitterati fifteen-deep at the bar—all while angling for tips, fielding bad pick-up lines, and trying to keep up with the other bartenders who party as hard as their stylish clientele.

When Cassie accepts a summer gig bartending at the hottest new club in the Hamptons she finds herself catapulted into a whirlwind of dazzling celebrity and over-the-top wealth unlike anything she’s ever seen. Life behind the velvet rope is hard to resist, especially when she finds herself falling for a Hamptons hottie named James. But as the summer progresses, and she finds herself surrounded by playboys, moguls, spoiled rich kids, and Paris Hilton clones in strappy stilettos, she soon wonders if playing the ersatz socialite—while actually trying to make a living—is more than she bargained for.

First line: I was drowning in a sea of bev naps, searching frantically for the bottle of Grey Goose, while hordes of people thirty deep with contorted red faces and bulging veins were screaming drink orders at me.

My thoughts: This was a fun, beach-type read. Nothing too serious. I've been quite fascinated by the Hamptons since I read James Brady's Further Lane a few years ago, so I always perk up my eyes, so to speak, when a book is set there. But, I must say, it sounds exhausting! Maybe I'm old before my time, but I can't imagine sharing a house with dozens of people and spending my nights trying desperately to get into places to get drunk. But, I don't know much about bartending or bars, so that made it an interesting read, even if it's not a lifestyle I could manage.

And the snobbery! On one hand, part of my fascination with the Hamptons is that it's for the rich and elite, but reading about it almost firsthand (both authors were, unsurprisingly, bartenders) is really sad - it's hard to believe that people are allowed to treat others poorly just because of their wealth in this day and age. But then, I guess that's something that has never and will never change. After watching the Gossip Girl crowd spend their summer in the Hamptons, this is definitely a view from the other side of the tracks.

The result of the romance with the rich boy is pretty predictable, but the happy ending is a bit unexpected and nice. In the end, Cassie definitely learns that being one of the Pearls Girls, as she nicknames James' socialite female friends, isn't something she's cracked up to be, and that's a good thing.

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