Social Creature: A Novel by Tara Isabella Burton

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Louise doesn’t know whether she’s terrified or terrible or triumphant, whether she is in love or just surviving. All she knows is that the world has ended but that it is also so turning.

As her mind is turning, whirling… said to be a Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, it started off slow for me until… until… the downward spiral began. Manipulation, lies, stealing (not just money either) this is a disturbed mind. Greedy for a better life, desperate to conquer her small-town past, Louise Wilson meets glamorous, wealthy  Lavinia Williams and wants everything she has, and to become everything she is. Is it possible to re-invent oneself, to smooth and polish every rough edge of your being? Is going to the right places, exposing yourself to culture, attending the right parties, surrounding yourself with the ‘best’ people and dressing the part a way to obtain all that the ‘haves’ come by naturally? Louise is going to change her luck, she will do anything! She emerges from her cocoon and begins to take on similarities to Lavinia, yet there is an elusive ‘something’ she can’t quite mimic.  She will take any abuses slung her way just to be close to Lavinia’s essence. But what is Louise but a hanger-on? Disposable? What will she do if Lavinia tires of her, as she is prone to do with her ‘projects’, her ‘pets’? Maybe Louise is getting too comfortable!

Louise cannot wrap her mind around the why of it all. Why does Lavinia deserve every blessing in life, none that has been earned? She is unflinchingly cruel on a whim, selfish, entitled and coldly beautiful and yet this is what makes every man and woman want her. What is wrong with wanting to remain in the world Lavinia has dangled before her? Louise cannot return to nothing, not after nesting in Lavinia’s home but her acts, her lies are an avalanche she can’t outrun. With every deception, more follow until she doesn’t know what’s real anymore. How much of herself will she have to shed to remain afloat? Just who will she become in the end? Will it all be for nothing?

The reader can’t stop what’s happening, anymore than Louise seems to be able to stop herself. How easily Louise turns chameleon. There were similarities to The Talented Mr. Ripley, but more of a YA feel. It’s good once it begins to sink into horror but the beginning didn’t grab me. I think twenty somethings will devour it and those of us that enjoyed Highsmith’s novel will weigh this against it. It has its appeal!

Publication Date: June 5 ,2018

Doubleday

 

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