All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

READ THIS: THE INVITATION By Lucy Foley Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Paul Mayer's luxuriously, comfortable designs keep women coming back for multiple -- even dozens -- of pairs. Classic, yet contemporary and always comfortable, his shoes are an addiction that we highly recommend. A staple of the Paul Mayer collection is the simple ballet-flat, with true ballerina construction for a perfect fit that comes in a variety of colors and materials. A cult favorite is the cozy, a flat with lavender-scent infused soles adding style and fragrance to collector's closets as Paul's designs emerge in sophisticated design incarnations season after season in the most incredible hues, textures and modern innovations in luxury footwear because we know firsthand how incredibly brilliant he is. Mayer founded the brand in 2004 with partner, Jeff Levy. All shoes in the line are manufactured in Spain’s Valencia region, along the Mediterranean coast by a skilled staff of 12 artisans. They craft each pair of shoes with an old-world attention to detail that includes in-house embroidery, quilting and stitching as well as custom tanned leather. This allows the brand to cater to each retailer’s specific demands in with timely and consistent alacrity, with orders completed in an unheard-of 3 to 5 weeks. When not in New York, Paul can be found traveling to his myriad of stores across the country meeting his loyal clientele or vacationing in his favorite spot, the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach. 

Paul Mayer is a Mover and Shaker: 

“The Invitation,” penned by an author brand new to us, Lucy Foley, is the most extraordinary novel we’ve read by an up-and-comer in many, many years. We’d even go to the great length to call it Fitzgerald-esque, the highest compliment to be earned.  (The Great Gatsby is someone's favorite book.)  With brilliant, complex characters and a plot that you could not pay us to give away, “The Invitation” is simply one of the best things that can happen to one of your lazy summer afternoons: it’s the celebration of sacred happiness. Peachy read it in an afternoon, but this is no fluffy nonsense beach read for those that pray to the altar of reality television shows on television channels that scream poor taste. 

Quite the contrary, Lucy’s novel boasts superlative depth and nuances that can only be achieved by the most intelligent in the world. We cannot properly verbalize how excited we were for the release of Julian Fellowes’s (we equate him with God) new work and it was everything we had hoped for; however, we had no similar high expectation for Foley- we had never heard of her which is not necessarily bad-we discover the best unknown to us on TWITTER- and she lived up to the same high standard Julian reached and has been reached by very few in our 600 plus book reviews over the years.  You may have noticed that Belgravia reignited this whole column and every book we've reviewed since then has been by his publisher.

In "The Invitation", the descriptions are strong, the characters are well-colored and the plot is flawless. Here’s a passage that evidences the strength of this work from page 174 spelling out excellence in storytelling:
“Then, as if some vault of memory has been thrown open, she tells him, too, of sleeping under the stars with the sounds of frogs and the light of fireflies; of a life lived barefoot beneath a warm sun, a town of red-tiled roofs and green fountains, of olive trees stretching in their marching lines as far as the eye could see.”

Opening in Rome in the mid 1950’s, our protagonist finds himself in ridicule by his uber-proper English family for his pursuit of journalism; in spite of this, Hal ultimately knows it is what will make him. And ooh la la guess who reads one of his movie reviews and how it could change his life. How we love the storyline!  In this great work we find a heroine who bien sur lives in New York, and obviously, the Manhattan part of it. She’s being referred to: “He could kiss her. Or rather, he could try-and he thinks she might not prevent him. The thought goes through him like a dart. He hasn’t wanted anything like this, not for as long as he can remember. His desire in Rome was uncomplicated, little more than instinct. It was the simple excitement of the unknown. This is something altogether more complex. For this reason, he steps away.” (p. 278) Yes, Manhattan women are different.

The story itself takes place in Europe for the most part with a bit of America and Africa thrown in too. Like all great works, “The Invitation” will appeal to both sexes alike, and you will not wish to be disturbed for one minute once you open the pages.  Now you know what Peachy is doing when she's not publishing or eating.  Or publishing on eating.  The mysterious intrigue disguised as a novel of pure entertainment will have you turn off your phone period as you flip through the pages with glee and horror: and best of all, there is nothing simple about this work. It has great depth to be applauded. Rich ripeness of words emanate from the pages like the sequential waves of a victorious incoming tide. Lucy Foley’s words are like the sun and you want to sit in them. 

There is the good, the bad and the ugly and examples of what can happen to someone who does not marry well. This book is not for the faint of heart. The effects of war that transcends nationality make this story incredibly human. Stylistically, we like how parts of the book go back and forth to “Her” sections which makes it all a bit Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The sections from the male protagonist are not labeled “Him” but you will follow along swimmingly. Lucy’s individual writing style shines through strong, clear and triumphant. The practice of a story within a story works well in “The Invitation” and the font choice employed here is smart, like everything else we noticed.  It irks us to no end when we see inferior literature being marketed on mass-market bookshelves (especially when they put the wrong books on the bottom shelf - Barnes and Noble we are going to go back and check on Eric's book!): Lucy's book is by far superior.

Some books we read through and sprint to the end to see what happens not only because of our innate curiosity but also for that writing which has not reached Fellowes-Foleyesque heights. This is so well done that you should savor it until it comes to a firework close. “The Invitation” is like opening the biggest present under the Christmas tree right in the middle of summer.

We absolutely cannot wait to see what Lucy does next, “because she does have it, a charisma beside which the charms of youth or beauty are so much blown thistledown.” (p. 15) This is her first feature on Whom You Know.

The Invitation by Lucy Foley is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

Lucy Foley’s THE INVITATION (Little, Brown and Company; August 2, 2016) is a glamorous love story, set along the Italian Riviera, about a group of Bright Young Things aboard a yacht who all have secrets and pasts they try desperately—and dangerously—to hide. Fans of Kate Morton, Laura Moriarty, and Liza Klaussmann will love this sultry summer read. 

Rome, 1953: Hal, an itinerant journalist, has come to the city to lose himself and to seek absolution for an accident during the war that haunts him. He lives from job to job, from story to story, until one evening he finds himself on the steps of a palazzo, walking into a world of privilege and light. Here he meets Stella, the reluctant wife of an American investor and a fellow outcast in a city far from home. 

Together they escape the crowded party and quickly find a place where they can imagine a different life, even if it’s just for a night. They share their secrets and feel a great spark of romance. Yet they are certain that their fates are already cast and that their paths won’t cross again. A year later Hal receives a fateful invitation. He’s asked by an Italian contessa to assist on the trip of a lifetime—acting as reporter on a tremendous yacht skimming its way along the Italian Riviera toward the Cannes film festival. It is here that Hal and Stella are unexpectedly thrown together again, for the famous movie stars and directors on board are gathered to promote a new movie funded by none other than Stella’s husband. 

Yet not all that glitters is gold. Many secret histories lurk beneath the surface of the lives of these Bright Young Things. Stella is bound to a powerful and profoundly dangerous man, and as Hal’s obsession grows, they sail toward a tragic fate.

An irresistibly entertaining and evocative novel, THE INVITATION is a sultry love story about the ways in which the secrets of the past stay with us—no matter how much we try to escape them.

 432 pages | 978-0-316-27347-3

Lucy Foley studied English literature at Durham University and University College London. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor, during which time she wrote her first novel, The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full time and is busy traveling (for research, naturally!), painting, and working on her next novel.

Back to TOP