Everyone Worth Knowing
|Cover artist||Evan Gaffney (design); Nick Dewar (illustration)|
|Genre||Chick lit novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback, Paperback)|
Everyone Worth Knowing is Lauren Weisberger's second novel. Published in 2005, it tells the story of Bette Robinson, a single woman in New York City caught up in the city's party circuit through a new job in public relations.
The story takes place in the mid-2000s, probably in 2005 (the Iraq War is referred to in passing, and the 2004 U.S. presidential election is discussed as if it were in the recent past), mostly in New York but with departures to Istanbul and Poughkeepsie.
Explanation of title
I have an office full of people whose job it is to know everyone worth knowing. Thirty-five thousand names, actually, and we can get in touch with any of them at any time. It's what we do.
Shaken by the news that her best friend Penelope has gotten engaged to Avery, who neither she nor Penelope's other friends think is right for her, Bette Robinson suddenly quits her job at UBS, the investment banking firm where she has worked in the five years since she and Penelope graduated from Emory. However, she does little to find a new direction in life until her uncle Will, an aging nationally syndicated entertainment columnist, introduces her to event planner Kelly.
Shortly thereafter, Bette finds herself working for Kelly & Co., planning parties, eating and drinking at the city's most fashionable night spots ... and becoming a regular subject of a popular online gossip column, whose anonymous author seems determined to link her romantically to wealthy playboy Philip Weston. While she does find Philip somewhat attractive, much like the heroines of the romance novels she secretly indulges in, and the association becomes of great benefit to her in her new job, she is later drawn to Sammy, a bouncer at Bungalow 8 who turns out to be from her hometown of Poughkeepsie and harbors ambitions of being a chef.
The two connect on a trip to Istanbul, and Sammy's culinary skills impress Bette's parents, former 1960s radicals, on a Thanksgiving trip back to Poughkeepsie. But he, too, is tied to a wealthy socialite, and dreams of escaping the high life to open a small restaurant. Bette, meanwhile, finds herself growing distant from Penelope and her other friends, and must choose between the person she once was and the one she is becoming.
Characters in "Everyone Worth Knowing"
- Bettina "Bette" Robinson, a 27-year-old single woman living in Manhattan. With her personal and professional lives stagnant, she leaves her investment banking job abruptly and winds up working for a top public relations firm. She is secretly addicted to reading trashy romance novels and belongs to a reading group of similarly inclined women
- Penelope ("Pen" for short), Bette's friend from their days at Emory University and co-worker at UBS, despite their very different backgrounds. In the first chapter, she becomes engaged to Avery, a long-time family friend Bette (and other friends of Pen) don't think is right for her.
- Will Davis, Bette's uncle, writer of the once-popular "Will of the People" syndicated entertainment column whose writings have increasingly taken a bent toward politically conservative rants.
- Simon, Will's partner, who remains deeply in love with him despite vastly different political leanings.
- Kelly, Bette's boss, who runs the hot public relations firm Kelly & Co.
- Philip Weston, a wealthy British playboy, nominally a lawyer, to whom Bette is publicly linked as a girlfriend even though the two are never more than friends. She finds him attractive despite a cruel streak and a condescending attitude to women, until she comes across him having sex with another man.
- Abigail "Abby" Abrams, an acquaintance of Bette and Pen from Emory who writes as "Ellie Insider", an online gossip columnist for the fictional website New York Scoop, while she is ostensibly just another freelance writer. A sociopath, she delights in causing emotional pain to other women, without seeming to do so directly, and will advance her interests by using people in any way possible, including sexually.
- Samuel "Sammy" Stevens, a bouncer at Bungalow 8 and aspiring chef. Bette knew him in high school, although not well, and is increasingly drawn to him.
- Avery Wainwright, Pen's fiancé. Like her, he is from New York's established society. However, he seems to have no career plans, other than applying to law school to put that decision off for a few more years.
- Elisa, a co-worker of Bette's at Kelly & Co. A cocaine addict, she secretly feeds information about Bette to Abby out of jealousy over her perceived relationship with Phillip.
- Davide, another Kelly & Co. employee. Of vaguely defined, probably Italian background, he or (more likely) his family is apparently wealthy and profligate enough for him to be eligible for an American Express black card.
- Robert Robinson, Bette's father, a professor of ecology at Vassar College. His wife works for the college's health center. The two met at Berkeley in the 1960s, where they became the political radicals they remain today, to the point that they do not celebrate Thanksgiving and were once wanted by the FBI. Robert is a bit less stringent than her, however, secretly complimenting Sammy the night before the holiday for making the best meal he'd had in ages even if it wasn't strictly organic and vegetarian.
Since Kelly & Co.'s primary business is sponsoring parties to which many celebrities are invited, many real-life notables are depicted. Among the most prominent are Hugh Hefner, Jay-Z, James Gandolfini, Ashanti and Jerry Seinfeld.
There is a reference in a nightclub to "that ugly little lesbian troll blogger who can't stop writing about how much blow she does every night" which was believed to be a reference to Elizabeth Spiers of Gawker Media, in retaliation for a disparaging remark she denies making about Weisberger.
Like The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing is essentially a morality play in which an unglamorous young single woman is suddenly thrust into a glamorous New York industry and slowly starts to get comfortable in it, despite keeping herself at a distance, at the expense of her relationship with family and friends, only to decisively reject it and begin to get what she really needs. Unlike its predecessor, however, the novel depicts far more decadent behavior from its wealthy elite, including casual sex, the frequent use of various illegal drugs and women starving themselves to the point that they frequently pass out from sheer hunger.
Although in most countries the book has the same title, or a direct translation, the title in some European countries is Gossip and Gucci, but in Spain the book is called How to be the coolest in New York, in Finland VIP-ihmisiä (VIP-people), in Sweden Alla var där (Everyone was there) and in Italy is Al diavolo piace Dolce (The devil likes Dolce "& Gabbana"). This has to do with the success of The devil wears Prada. The cover art in the Netherlands is also very similar to the movie's poster. The Polish title is Butler Wears Gabbana Suit.
Allusions and references to other works
Bette's guilty pleasure leads to many romance novel titles, possibly fictional, being mentioned, such as The Very Bad Boy and Her Royal Bodyguard. On the plane to Istanbul, the characters watch Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
Critical reception and sales
Weisberger's second novel received generally unfavorable reviews. The New York Times Book Review described it as "fatuous, clunky." USA Today called it "lackluster imitation," and Entertainment Weekly said it was "ho-hum rehash." Despite debuting on the New York Times Best Seller List at #10, it dropped off the list in two weeks and was noted for its disappointing, declining sales. Publisher Simon & Schuster paid Weisberger $1 million for the novel.
- Weisberger, Lauren (2005). Everyone Worth Knowing. pp. 45.
- Rush & Molloy; October 5, 2006; Exchange of barbs; New York Daily News; retrieved February 1, 2007.
- Schillinger, Liesl; October 2, 2005; Having it All, Paying for it All; The New York Times Book Review; retrieved January 31, 2007.
- Kinetz, Erika "Devil's in the Follow-Up" New York Times, November 6, 2005. Accessed January 28, 2007.