Everybody Rise* An advance copy of Everybody Rise was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Though I enjoyed parts of this book, I cannot say that it is worthy of the seven-figure book deal (oh, the irony!), potential film, or praise it has gotten. It's making me seriously question the integrity of the arts today (even to me that sounds like a ridiculous statement, but it's true).
The plot of the book, at its roots, is that a 26-year-old woman named Evelyn is doing anything and eve* An advance copy of Everybody Rise was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Though I enjoyed parts of this book, I cannot say that it is worthy of the seven-figure book deal (oh, the irony!), potential film, or praise it has gotten. It's making me seriously question the integrity of the arts today (even to me that sounds like a ridiculous statement, but it's true). The plot of the book, at its roots, is that a 26-year-old woman named Evelyn is doing anything and everything she can to climb socially to the ranks of the upper class because of pressure from both her mother and her job. It begins at a crawling pace, but by the time I finished, I was glad of the slow build-up. As Evelyn is becoming immersed in the world of the upper class, the reader is too, learning what is proper and the names and histories of the most elite inner circle of New York and its surrounding area. However, this narrative technique has its pitfalls as well; I found myself extremely uninterested for much of the first third of the novel, though by the middle I was much more into it. I found myself becoming intrigued especially by the characters, who were at times very well-written, namely Camilla Rutherford (the top member of high society) and Barbara (Evelyn's mother, who is forever gazing up in hopes that she will one day reach the upper class and acceptance). However, other characters were much less believable; Scot, Evelyn's boyfriend for much of the novel, was a bit too clumsy and boring. Overall, I thought the plot and characters were mostly well-done.The writing itself, however, is where it fell apart for me. There were several scenes and images that were completely unbelievable. Being a solidly middle-class Jersey girl, much of this book was unfamiliar territory for me, but being a woman, a lot of the characters and situations were very real. But if the title of your book is "Everybody Rise," clearly a reference to one of Sondheim's most famous songs, is it really necessary to mention Sondheim a million times? Is it really necessary to have the main character walk into a piano bar once she's toppled from the height of the inner circle and have the people in that bar just beginning to sing "Ladies Who Lunch," forcing her to join in, and then following that with three more
songs that so perfectly explain her situation? Aside from that, is it believable that a 26-year-old woman would be stupid enough to believe that winning a crew race could catapult her back into high society? Or that one of the wealthiest and most sought-after men in the world would not only call her back, but want to marry her after a one-night stand they had a week ago? Or that word about that one-night stand wouldn't get out, especially since he's in her group of friends and they had sex in her friend's house? Come on. These things aren't just improbable; they're unbelievable. A few specific lines that drove me nuts:"Dusk was approaching, and birds whiggered and cawed, passing messages about dinner and why the nest was such a mess.""Each bed was neatly made with linen-colored, linen-material linens...showing remarkably restrained taste.""...and then reached for a cheese knife at the same time as Nick.'Oh, excuse me,' Evelyn said, and flicked her eyes up. 'Oh, Nick! Sorry, I didn't mean to be a cheese Nazi.''N.B.D., Evelyn,' Nick said, which stood for no big deal. 'Get down with your Roquefort.'"The editing, too, was a complete disaster, with rogue commas and misdirected punctuation marks. More than the grammatical errors, however, were the continuity mistakes: characters are scolded for using the word "dude" when the word was never used in that character's dialogue; Evelyn misquotes prices that have just been stated to her; names of minor characters jump from one name to another, and then back to the original again. I know this book doesn't come out until mid-August, and admittedly I'm not completely familiar with the way all of this works, so perhaps it will go through another round or two of editing before it's actually put on shelves. I hope that's the case, anyway, because otherwise, it's disastrous. When marking my students' papers, I don't comment on grammar unless it detracts from meaning. These errors detracted from meaning heavily; I sometimes found myself going back in an attempt to figure out who a character was, or how we got here, or how an author whose book was just purchased for seven figures could be unclear on the simplest grammatical rules. It was an issue for me, albeit one of the smaller ones I had with this novel.
All of this being said, I do think that this will make an interesting movie, if not a good one. I think that it will sell at the box office with the right cast, and that it will make the people involved a good deal of money (though I shudder to think that the producer is the same as Twilight, and I'm hoping it isn't a sign of things to come). But I also think that those involved will need to go through several more edits before this is ready for shelves or screen. I also think -- or, rather, hope -- that other, more talented artists gain the recognition and perks that Stephanie Clifford has somehow received....more