Elements of Style

By Wendy Wasserstein
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9781400042319, 320pp.)

Publication Date: April 18, 2006

Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc, Paperback

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Description

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author of the essay collection Shiksa Goddess (“Utterly delicious”—Judith Thurman), a dazzling debut novel, a comedy about New York’s urban gentry living in a post-9/11 world—the arbiters of fashion and the doyennes of charity balls; about the rich and the nouveau rich(er), the glamorous and the desperate to be.

We meet Francesca Weissman, the Upper East Side pediatrician rated number one by Manhattan magazine, who takes us into the upper strata of privilege and aspiration (she’s originally from Queens with a father in hosiery; life on the fringes of glittering New York is fine with her) . . . Samantha Acton, thoroughbred descendant of the Van Rensselaers and the Carnegies, who defines the social order in the great tradition of Mrs. Astor and Babe Paley . . . Judy Tremont from Modesto, California, daughter of a cop—her life’s work, her obsession, is New York society and its richest families . . . Barry Santorini, Republican, moviemaker, winner of twelve Oscars, and his wife, the Italian supermarket heiress and former media rep for Giorgio Armani . . . and many more.

As Elements of Style opens out, we see a madcap mosaic of the social lives and mores of twenty-first century Manhattan—of romance, work, family, and friendship. Satiric, fierce, touching—and deliciously Wasserstein.

“Pure Wendy! She effortlessly makes the leap from stage to page with a novel that is loving, compassionate, flat-out funny. Wendy loved the word ‘scintillating,’ which is the best way to describe her stunning Elements of Style.
—John Guare

“Wasserstein gets the trappings and tribulations (of friendship and of romance) right, making her depiction of the rich and fab trying to connect with one another witty and entertaining.”
Publishers Weekly

“Bold, nimble, and funny to its fingertips, Elements of Style is a delight, a triumph. A book that no self-respecting New Yorker should be without. Those cursed with the hell of multiple residences will self-evidently need several copies—and spares, for houseguests.”
—Flora Fraser




About the Author

Wendy Wasserstein is the author of the the plays Uncommon Women and Others, Isn’t It Romantic, The Sisters Rosensweig, An American Daughter, and The Heidi Chronicles, for which she received a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and of the books, Bachelor Girls and Shiksa Goddess. She was admired both for the warmth and the satirical cool of her writing; each of her plays and books captures an essence of the time, makes us laugh and leaves us wiser. Wendy Wasserstein was born in 1950 in Brooklyn and died at the age of 55. Her daughter, Lucy Jane, lives in New York.




Praise For Elements of Style

“Wasserstein had the rare ability to be sardonic and compassionate at once . . . [She] demonstrates, with sly grace, a vulnerability that cuts across class lines.”

The New Yorker

“A tart satire . . . Once again, Wasserstein, who will always be remembered as a woman’s woman and a New Yorker’s New Yorker, proves that humor is the best refuge from life’s sorrows.”

Vogue

“Wasserstein delivers with seductive intimacy . . . Beguiling . . . Amusing and telling with just the right touch of melancholy.”

—Sherryl Connelly, Daily News

“You can hear the raucous laughter, fell the well-honed satiric bite–and sense the well-guarded private tears–throughout Elements of Style, [Wasserstein’s] first, and sadly, her only novel. . . . Think a modern-day Jane Austen observing the socialites who throw benefits for the New York City Ballet, compare notes on pediatricians and private schools, and visit the ghetto only to attend gala parties that require a cutting-edge installation.”

—Heidi Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“Her legacy is a cautionary truth, offered with a signature wit that we will miss for a long time to come.”

—Julia Glass, More

“Quintessential Wendy.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Wasserstein’s book has a wit and a heart.”

—Jenny Shank, Rocky Mountain News

“Wendy Wasserstein’s smart, funny sensibility bubbles up on almost every page of her first and last novel . . . Observant and sharp . . . Full of the ironic humor she brought to the stage . . . Vividly drawn . . . [Wasserstein’s] one and only novel serves as a poignant reminder of a talented, astute, warm-hearted woman gone too soon.”

—Christine Dolen, The Miami Herald

“With her usual keen ear, Wasserstein pins [her characters] in the pages like gilded butterflies, brilliantly contrasting a society committed to status and surface glitter with the fragility and impermanence of life. . . . [A] wry, clear-sighted book–a final gift this generous, funny woman has left us.”

—Marianne Evett, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“One can finish this funny, compassionate book with an aching heart.”

Bookpage

“Playwright Wendy Wasserstein’s posthumous debut novel showcases all her comic gifts, and unforgettable Elements of Style.”

Vanity Fair

“A bright social comedy . . . Sleek, entertaining.”

—Caryn James, The New York Times Book Review

“Chick-lit with a chill and a pedigree . . . A blithe, funny feat of escapism and a sobering reminder of the inescapable.”

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“At the heart of Wasserstein’s social critique lies the same intriguing paradox Henry James explored: those with old money, sophistication, and polish are attracted ot the raw energy (the vulgarity even) of society’s nakedly aspiring climbers.”

—Elizabeth Judd, The Atlantic Monthly

“Wasserstein peppers her dishy humor with piquant and poignant insights, transcending the chick-lit clichés that Style flirts with. You would expect no less from such a sharp and generous spirit.”

—Elysa Gardner, USA Today

“This beautiful little pink number with its stylish ribbon is just great. It is ‘chick lit’ fiction to end all such; only in Wendy’s case, there is more ‘lit’ to it than in others of the same genre.”

—Liz Smith

“Readers looking for an arch and sexy high-society fantasy with edge will be perfectly satisfied with this tart tale of excess and retribution in the city.”

Booklist

“Pure Wendy! Wendy Wasserstein effortlessly makes the leap from stage to page with a novel that is loving, compassionate, flat-out funny. Wendy loved the word ‘scintillating’ which is the best way to describe her stunning Elements of Style.”

—John Guare

“Bold, nimble and funny to its fingertips,  Elements of Style is a delight, a triumph. A book that no self-respecting New Yorker should be without. Those cursed with the hell of  multiple residences will self-evidently need several copies–and spares, for house-guests.”

—Flora Fraser

“Wasserstein gets the trappings and tribulations (of friendship and of romance) right, making her depiction of the rich and fab trying to connect with one another witty and entertaining.”

Publishers Weekly

“[Wasserstein does] a good job of simultaneously poking fun at high society and evoking the anxiety of maintaining a perfect image, capturing a world that is at once fascinating, appalling, and amusing. . . . A sensuous read . . . Wasserstein’s ironic perspective saves it from being merely decadent. Recommended for popular fiction collections.”

Library Journal

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