REVIEW: Social Creature, Tara Isabella Burton

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being catcalled by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment… Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best underground speakeasies, the opera, shares her clothes, her drugs, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia’s life?

Books like this one really make you appreciate the classics. “Great Gatsby for the new generation” they said. Well, sorry, love, but honestly, I would rather just have the original. That is because, when F. Scott Fitzgerald wasn’t drowning himself in copious amounts of champagne, he was a witty and scathing observer of the decadent and privileged society that his romantic interest, and later wife, was surrounded by. By the time he had gotten around to sobering up and actually sitting down to write The Great Gatsby, he had become completely disillusioned with the American Dream, and the selfishness and self-importance he saw in both himself, and the people that surrounded him.
Without this sense of depth, The Great Gatsby wouldn’t have been the novel it is today. It would have been fun, yes, but undeniably trashy and self-aggrandising. And, unlike the classic novel, Tara Isabella Burton’s Social Creature quickly became that, as it dashed past social commentary straight into being the gilded monster it was supposed to be mocking: a shallow and surface-level examination of needless extravagance and the emptiness of the privileged New York party scene.
And, I like television shows like Made in Chelsea and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so if I found it to be annoyingly shallow, then that is really saying something. But honestly, unlike them, it was just obnoxious and really quite boring, in a way that all night dance parties and breathless, reckless adventures really should not be; too steeped in tiring, half-arsed attempts at intelligent thought to really be of much use or interest to anybody.
If you’re going to do snarky, do it well. If you’re going to do pretentious, do it well. If not, then why should you even bother?


Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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