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Elegance: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Elegance: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Kathleen Tessaro(Author)

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3.5 (2699)
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Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Kathleen Tessaro(Author)
  • Harper; First Edition edition (2003)
  • English
  • 2
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Robert Beveridge on October 14, 2009

    Kathleen Tessaro, Elegance (Morrow, 2003)There is a particular passage in the book-within-a-book Elegance that defines, in a far more eloquent way, something I've been trying to pinpoint about the major problem with the fashion industry, and a major problem with western culture in general."However, if women continue to seek comfort above all twenty-four hours a day, twelve months a year, they may eventually find that they have allowed themselves to become slaves to the crepe-rubber sole, nylon from head to toe, pre-digested meals, organized travel, functional uniformity, and general stultification. When comfort becomes an end in itself, it is the Public Enemy Number One of elegance."Exactly. I do not, however, chuck books out the window on philosophical differences alone, so after reading this, I just shook my head in incredulity and soldiered on until I hit the fifty-page rule.For those of you who do not subscribe to the fifty-page rule, let me offer you an explanation of the mental process that goes along with it. You begin reading a book, and your initial reaction to it is anywhere from apathy to outright revulsion. Perhaps the book's pacing is ponderous, its dialogue is stock, you've read the plot a hundred times before. Perhaps it's supposed to be funny ("Hilarious!" according to Marilyn Keyes on the front cover) and the most you can manage is a wistful smile for the last chick-lit novel you read, which was so much funnier than this you can't find a mode of comparison. The you get to page fifty. You check the page count of the entire novel. Fifty pages often breaks down into an easy fraction (say, slightly less than one-sixth of the novel). Then you ask yourself quite seriously if you can put up with reading fifty more pages of this...five times over. If your answer is "no", you move on to what are hopefully the better, more interesting books in your to-be-read stack, and out the window this particular headache goes, never to be thought of again. Unless, of course, you're reviewing it.I could probably have put up with the revolting philosophy (after all, it can't really get much worse than "comfort is the enemy of elegance"; might as well bring footbinders back into style). I would have stomached the ponderous pace and worthless dialogue. I could have even justified the book's non-hilariousness (thank you, Marilyn Keyes) by assuming the blurb was wrong and it was meant to be a family drama rather than a piece of chick lit. But at the very end of that first fifty-page chunk, Tessaro puts her main characters into a situation that's so overdone I can't count the number of times I've seen it; I think it's cropped up in every romance/chick lit/family drama I've ever read with married protagonists. Not only is it not original, it's aggressively derivative. It hops up in your face and says "look at me! You've seen me a million times, and yet I am still supposed to entertain you!" So I did what, I should hope, any discerning reader would do; I shut the book and sent it on its way through the air to the back lawn. It will feed earthworms far better than it will feed your brain. (zero)

  • By Gator Dreams on January 11, 2017

    Elegance is quite an enjoyable read. An excellent first novel. Though the story is wrapped around Elegance, it's just as much about a womanfinding her own sense of style, both in terms of fashion and in terms of being true to herself. The characters are quirky at times, yet presented in an interesting and appealing way. I don't read lots of fiction and certainly not much of this genre, yet it read quickly. Though the 'heroine' is 30 something, it reads more like a later bloomer coming of age. She faces some difficulties, traced back to childhoodand is able to eventually face them squarely and get through lots of her own 'issues'. Her descriptions of this process were well done,clearly painting the scene with humor. As the author is from the East Coast, she carries with her the sharp, sometimes sarcastic wit with her,to the stiff upper lip of England. The book within the book,Elegance by Madame Dariaux, is quite old-fashioned and some of it's 'directions' are obviously outdated. Still it inspires and lends itself to encouraging one to pay attention to themselves and their surroundings. It's the quest to find and exude the beauty from within, rather than be subservient to the latest trendy fashion. The one woman I've known who is the essence of Elegance, followed the dictates of her inner self, rather than the rules or constraints of fashion.

  • By Diana Faillace Von Behren on September 29, 2003

    Thirty-two year old Yankee Louise is surrounded by chic London socialites, while she miserably stands vigil by her husband's side at a boring gallery opening where she is mistaken in her out-of-date and ill-fitting frock as pregnant. Such disgrace begins Louise's journey to fashion and confidence nirvana with a used book by a French fashion expert as her knowing guide. As Louise whips through the encyclopedic style manual,---we are treated to excerpts in all 26 chapter headings---she sheds not only her excess weight, but her scared-to-come-out-of-the-closet husband. The revelation that 'elegance' merely means looking appropriate for the occasion, for one's companion and for oneself, comes slowly---Louise actually arrives at date with a man at the Ritz in a tarty outfit and panicking must swap clothes with a more classically refined friend --- Tessaro has fun making the most of describing Louise's faux pas along the way to discovering a style of her own. The ending, of course, borders on the predictable---with the dawning of personal taste and an involvement in one's own life, comes the reward, in this case a rather dishy musician who is 8 years younger than Louise. Lucky Louise."Elegance" offers yet another glance at the Cinderella story that has been done over and over again, time out of mind. If you've just read Brigit Jones and are a bit tired of deciphering the British slang and celebrity references, I would pass on this one until at least it comes out in paperback or you are in the mood for more of the same. The novel is meant to be fun, there are no grand revelations or great secrets here, just common sense----although some readers are obviously taking it quite seriously as I have read that copies of the quoted Dariaux book are currently big business on E*bay. I will recommend it for those who, like myself, like a fun read about fashion and becomng a swan instead of an ugly duckling---what could be more appealing? I will also recommend it as a springboard to those who enjoy exploring a more classic quieter way of life even though this is just touched upon in the novel. You laughed a bit and found Louise's antics amusing, now, check out "Joie De Vivre" by restauranteur Arbor--a charming look at French life---and Will Clower's "The Fat Fallacy" which explains the French manner of eating to stay slim. "Elegance", the novel will intrigue you by Tessaro's modern interpretaion of Madame Dariaux's "Elegance" where dressing well and looking well are equally as important as eating and savoring your life and push you through to your own thresold to find such a life of your own.


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