DEVIL WEARS PRADA: A SEQUEL / IN STITCHES WITH THE MASTER OF SATIRE / MODERN FAMILY TIES THAT BIND AND BEND / DETECTIVE WORK IN THE GRIM CITY
WHEN LIFE GIVE YOU LULULEMONS Lauren Weisberger HARPERCOLLINS, $29.99
Lauren Weisberger is best known for her bestseller The Devil Wears Prada, which was turned into a Hollywood film. Her latest novel returns to those glamorous New York roots, this time centring around Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestley’s erstwhile first assistant. Emily, as career-driven and stylish as ever, is now a consultant to the stars, specialising in swooping in when an image disaster is afoot. Daunted by the loss of yet another client to a social media savvy millennial, she retreats to Greenwich, Connecticut, home to stylish yummy mummies and her oldest friend, Miriam. Throw in another friend of Miriam, Karolina Hartwell, a senator’s wife with a ruined reputation and a life in tatters, and the scene is set for Emily’s career revival and Karolina’s revenge. This satisfying mix of sex, scandal, PR disasters and the lives of the rich and restless is all too easy to race through, preferably with a glass of wine in hand. Even if the designer labels and Hollywood parties are removed from the everyday reader’s life, it’s not hard to find something to relate to, whether it be baby shower etiquette or parties where friends turn into product-shilling salespeople.
VERDICT: Pure glitterati escapism
CALYPSO David Sedaris HACHETTE, $30
US satirist David Sedaris has never had to look far to find something to write about. His quirky and eccentric family, plus his unconventional daily life, have been mined to great depths throughout his career, providing plenty of comedy gold. Calypso sticks to the same formula and is bursting with Sedaris’ brilliant observational humour. With middle age upon him, Sedaris buys his first beach house, the Sea Section, and it’s there the oddball Sedaris clan descends. On these holidays, Sedaris reflects on everything from having a nuisance tumour removed and his desire to feed it to his favourite snapping turtle, to his Fitbit obsession. But it’s the banter with his sisters that leaves you in stitches. When talking ghosts with sister Amy, she notes spirits can attach themselves to anything. “That’s why a lot of people won’t wear vintage clothing.” Asks David: “Dry-cleaning doesn’t kill them?” “They’re not bedbugs, they’re ghosts.”
VERDICT: Laughs keep coming
FIVE YEARS FROM NOW Paige Toon MICHAEL JOSEPH, $30
In the tradition of David Nicholls’ One Day, Five Years from Now follows the lives of two young people, revisiting them every five years to chart the ups and downs of their relationship. Vian and Nell meet as five-year-olds when Vian’s mum and Nell’s dad start living together. Born just days apart, they fast become inseparable. They are best friends and share a bond like brother and sister. But then circumstances wrench them apart at 10.
Nell stays in Cornwall, while Vian moves to Australia. When the pair are reunited at 15,
Vian has become Van and it is clear that’s not the only thing that’s changed, the pair no longer seeing each other as brother and sister. Toon grew up between Australia, Britain and the US. Her novel is immensely readable and full of heart, though it doesn’t quite work as well as One Day. Having each chapter set five years apart was quite restrictive.
SHELLEY HADFIELD VERDICT: Rollercoaster
INTO THE NIGHT Sarah Bailey ALLEN & UNWIN, $33
In this second in the series, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock has moved from her childhood and motherhood home in country NSW to Melbourne as a member of the homicide squad. She has left her son in the care of his father to go somewhere where she can be anonymous and not have grown up with the victims or perpetrators of crimes she’s been called to investigate. But not only is she now a member of a much bigger team, the pressures become more political than personal, especially when a well-loved young actor is killed while filming a street scene in Spring St. There are no Sherlock Holmes deductions (or inductions) to the solving of crimes here, just the meticulous, slogging police work of statements and interviews. And there are no heroics, except those of people trying to cope with loneliness, loss and alienation that go with living in the big city. This is a totally different environment to The Dark Lake, the first novel by Bailey. But it is nonetheless powerful as Woodstock attempts to make sense of her own life while keeping open the compartment of the brain that solves crimes.
VERDICT: Caught in the act