- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceThe Unfortunate Importance of Beauty (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: HighBridge Audio$29.99
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-11-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Filipacchi’s fourth novel blithely upends the social constructs of beauty, desire, and art in her signature brisk, darkly comic style. As usual, Filipacchi taps the sleaze at its source: Manhattan. The focus is on a successful costumer designer named Barb and her group of artsy friends, the Knights of Creation: Georgia, a bestselling novelist; Lily, a talented pianist; beautiful socialite and would-be potter Penelope, who was once kidnapped; and Penelope’s rescuer, ex-cop Jack. The fractured fairy tale of a plot turns on narrator Barb, who inherited her supermodel mother’s jaw-dropping looks but has dressed in an elaborate disguise since she learned that her beauty drove her friend Gabriel to suicide, and Lily, whose face is “simply extremely ugly—the kind of ugliness that is inoperable,” and who yearns to write a piece of music that will hypnotize her longtime crush, a bro-ish violinist named Strad. Filipacchi (Love Creeps) succeeds by loading this frothy plot with sharp surreal turns and layers of subversive meaning as Georgia’s lost laptop mysteriously reappears, Lily’s melodious powers of persuasion become supernaturally effective, and Gabriel warns in a postmortem letter to Barb that one of the Knights intends to kill Strad. The author’s own mother, model Sondra Peterson, even makes a cameo, but while looks can kill, they’re no match for Filipacchi’s rapier wit. (Feb.)
Beauty is pain
Amanda Filipacchi’s fourth novel is a matchless satire that manages to make a point or two along with the fun. It follows a memorable cast of characters, led by Barb, a costume designer and world-class beauty with the kindest of hearts. Convinced of the sheer uselessness and even destructiveness of beauty after a spurned lover kills himself over her, Barb hides her looks under a fat suit.
By contrast, Barb’s best friend, Lily, is ugly but plays the piano like a dream, to the point where she can inspire listeners to see her as incredibly beautiful—as long as her music goes on. And there’s Penelope, whose pottery store is filled with merchandise designed to crack when lifted by a customer. (This brings in a steady income, thanks to the store’s “you break it, you buy it” policy.) The three are part of an artsy community, the Knights of Creation, where they help each other achieve their various creative goals.
The story is both daunting and haunting, as Lily and Barb face the deaths of friends (which one of their fellow Knights may be involved in) and the threats of needy fellow members.
Obviously, total realism is not Filipacchi’s specialty, but no reader would want it otherwise. A novel of deliberate contrariness, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty takes on some thorny issues and speaks to both the mind and heart at the same time. Not to mention the funny bone.