Posted by: Samantha | October 27, 2008

Reviewed: All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz

All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz is the author’s second book, and one more reason that she is now among my favorite authors.  What do you do when you badly want to write a novel – one that will make all those people who ever thought you were ‘mediocre’ see you in a completely new light?  What if you have no great ideas…well, no ideas at all for that matter?

Well, you document the financial collapse of your best friend, that’s what.  That’s what Margaret does to Letty in this book.  To keep in touch, Letty sends her friend incredibly detailed, humorous at times and very vivid accounts of her own life.  Letty goes from a mother who is struggling to do everything to an almost wealthy, aspiring social sweetheart.  With her husband’s new job at the museum, she can afford the best in life.

Margaret, on the other hand, writes every purchase down in a ledger to keep track of finances.  She also made a bit of a mistake by announcing to everyone (her parents, her friends and the other teachers and administration at the school where she taught English) that she is going to write the next great American novel.  Having pushed herself toward greatness since she was a child, she has no reason to doubt her statements.

However, after several months pass without a great idea or even a pretty good one – she starts to doubt herself.  But then inspiration strikes – through Letty’s notes, she sees her friend struggling to achieve the social status she feels she deserves.  Designer furniture, a brand new house, a fancy car…and Margaret realizes that her friend’s detailed notes would make an exciting, interesting and fascinating novel.

Asking questions, prodding and even sometimes convincing Letty to continue down her disastrous path, Margaret fills the pages of her novel.  In the back of her mind, she sees her friend heading for trouble, but there’s always time to stop it later, right?  After a few more chapters, anyway.

Margaret continues until suddenly the finances catch up to Letty and she must make desperate moves to make ends meet.  This book starts out a little slow, but I’ve come to realize that this is Christina Schwarz’s way of giving us our appetizer before serving up the vivid, delicious full course.  I was provided a very deep and interesting look into human nature, once again, and although I enjoyed ‘Drowning Ruth’ by Christina Schwarz more – this book has a charm all it’s own.

I highly recommend this book and will certainly be getting her latest and third book, ‘So Long at the Fair’ right away!

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