Lily Bartholomew thinks she has everything. She enjoys her job as a journalist and is engaged to a wonderful man, Robert Bartholomew, whose family is wealthy beyond Lily’s middle-class dreams. She couldn’t care less about the money – Robert loves her beyond belief and makes her happier than she ever thought she could be. What’s more, Lily is the newest “it” girl – she has become a socialite, and everyone wants to be seen with her.
But after the wedding, things change quickly. Lily gets pregnant on the honeymoon, and hers and Robert’s lives change dramatically. Robert leaves his job at a prestigious, well-paying firm, forcing the young couple to rely more and more on Robert’s wealthy mother, who has never liked Lily. Lily is becoming less and less content with her life since becoming a New York socialite and no longer feels fulfilled. But once she starts to write about her glitz-filled life for a newspaper and Robert begins spending less time at home and more time with his mother, how long can Lily’s once-stable marriage survive?
Any woman can sympathize with Lily, despite the inordinate amount of wealth displayed in the novel. It’s easy to dream about meeting an insanely rich man and falling head-over-heels in love. What no one really thinks about is what comes next – after your 15 minutes of fame are over and people are ready to crush you. Lily is thrust into this society, unaware of the backstabbing and cattiness inherent in it. What makes it worse for her is that her mother-in-law, Josephine, despises her. Without any sort of guidance, Lily seems lost and tries to make the best of her situation. It’s definitely a sympathetic read, without having that “poor little rich girl” quality.
The details about the glamour and rigors of the wealthy social scene are juicy as well. This is one of those novels that makes a person wonder why anyone would want to enter that lifestyle (notwithstanding the insane amounts of wealth, of course). What makes it really engrossing is that the author really knows the life of a socialite. Gilding Lily is a thoroughly entertaining read by an insider of the New York social scene. New York-based journalist Tatiana Boncompagni frequents that scene but also graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She married the heir to the Hoover vacuum empire, so the book is apparently semi-autobiographical. In other words, she really knows her stuff, and it shows in her debut novel.
Boncompagni’s next novel, Hedge Fund Wives, is due out next year, but it is not without a bit of drama behind the scenes. The author is suing her sister, Natasha, who provided some input on Tatiana’s next novel. According to the lawsuit, Natasha surreptitiously copied some of Hedge Fund Wives in an effort to claim co-authorship on the novel. With drama like that in the background, the book is sure to be just as entertaining as Gilding Lily.