"A sure comic touch . . . smart and sweet . . . a tribute to the pleasures of friendship." —The New Yorker
In the heart of New York City, a group of artistic friends struggles with society's standards of beauty. At the center are Barb and Lily, two women at opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, but with the same problem: each fears she will never find a love that can overcome her looks. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, makes herself ugly in hopes of finding true love. Meanwhile, her friend Lily, a brilliantly talented but plain-looking musician, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the man who has rejected her—with results that are as touching as they are transformative.
To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover that they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb’s calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty is a smart, modern-day fairy tale. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Amanda Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Extravagantly Perceptive and Soul Opening
The last time I picked up a novel that I actually wanted to finish was so long ago I can't remember the title or the author. I have tried and failed to read countless books that didn't grip me and felt a responsibility to finish them because I'd be doing the author an injustice. However, with this novel, I have found that it did me a justice and has given me insight to a multitude of blindnesses and personal attributes, believed to be defects, that I have found a new appreciation for.
From start till finish I have been engaged with these characters. I have seen my traits in them and my tendencies to be similar to theirs. Barb, Lily, Georgia, Penelope, Jack, Gabriel and Peter have all caused a shift in my viewpoints of my friends and family, as well as myself, that I can't help but ache to read the book again. If you're looking for a gripping piece of literature, you've found it. This will forever be a novel that changed me. I can say that, that rarely happens.
Thank you for this amazing feat. I will forever cherish it.
Absolutely disappointing and terribly written
This book's premise is wonderful and had such promise! Instead of finding a well-written novel however, I found a terribly written book that could've been written by a middle-schooler. This was by far the worst 12.99 I have ever spent. I read 2-3 books per week, and I have read some that I didn't all-together like, but this book was almost painful to read.
Overall it was a really good story with good morals. However, like everyone else said, it did get weird towards the end. It was still worth reading though