Is Ani, nee TifAni, FaNelli the Luckiest Girl Alive because she’s engaged to the perfect guy, has the perfect job, wears a size zero, dresses from the designer wardrobe closet of a major women’s magazine and hasn’t yet turned 30? Or is Jessica Knoll the luckiest girl alive for transitioning from her own job at Cosmopolitan magazine to the best seller list to film production of her novel by Reese Witherspoon’s company?
I’m voting for Knoll. TifAni, with all her inherent spelling and name intrigue, is not only not lucky, she’s not likable enough to want to befriend, and at least at the outset, a little bit too offensive to even want to read about either. Knoll must’ve stolen the luck of several generations of Irish. It couldn’t have hurt that none other than Reese Witherspoon tweeted a copy of the book jacket with this message: “It was the most non-stop nail-biting crazy train of a book with one of the most intriguing characters I have read in a long time!”
Luckiest Girl Alive begins with edgy scenes, language, risky behavior and with Ani comtemplating stabbing her fiance in the stomach with a bridal registry knife. Along with her self-inflicted name change, Ani’s transformed her-Pennsylvania-self into a chic, New York gad-about-town/sex columnist and BrideZilla wardrobed in designer labels. The book is told completely in first person, which means that you have to either like Ani or be compelled to keep reading about this narcissistic, manipulative woman. Ultimately, you are.
I had six leisurely years to get to where I am now: fiancee in finance, first-name basis with the hostess at Locanda Verde, the latest Chloe hooked over my wrist (not Celine, bur at least I knew better than to parade around a monstrous Louis Vuitton like it was the eighth wonder of the world). Plenty of time to hone my craft. But wedding planning, now that has a much steeper learning curve.
The New York Times book review note on Luckiest Girl Alive commented that “some reviewers have called her the mirror image of Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl,” since Ani seems purely manipulative at the start but becomes more human as the book reveals its secrets.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/books/review/inside-the-list.html?_r=0
Ani has a reason to be the monstrously, social climbing witch that she is, but once I discovered what the loaded asides and clues had been alluding to throughout the novel, I still didn’t like Ani, didn’t have much more compassion for her and wasn’t happy with the plot or character shift. Annie’s traumatic event was transformative only in the sense that she found a way to lose weight consistently.
Bottom line: for me, it was a quick, easy, fun read. But I didn’t like Ani at all. Ever. Once you find out the secret, which I will not disclose here, it will give your book club a toehold for an interesting discussion. How does trauma change people? And what could have been done to prevent the situation? It is particularly relevant to today’s society. So I would encourage you to read.
Ani has an eating disorder. “I loved the evenings Luke had clients to entertain. I’d come home with two plastic bags filled with the neighborhood bodega’s finest carbs, devour every last starchy crumb, and toss the evidence down the garbage chute, Luke none the wiser.”
Nevertheless, there are some good food references in Luckiest Girl Alive.
From the caterer’s tasting menu:
Lobster mac and cheese bites
Mini lobster rolls
Wasabi steak tips
An oyster bar
A sushi bar
I’d do a New York playlist:
New York State of Mind, Billy Joel
I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers
Arthur’s Theme, Christopher Cross
Living for the City, Stevie Wonder
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
New York Minute, Don Henley
Ani — Rooney Mara
Luke — Scott Eastwood
Nell — Amanda Seyfried
Arthur — Rico Rodriguez