Sadly, either my memory is foggy or her writing has deteriorated greatly. I found this book horrible to read, and I gave up trying about a quarter in and just skimmed the story to see if the ending satisfied it didn't. It's about a poor Parisian girl, Emma, a struggling but brilliant writer, who is promised that all her debts will be cancelled if she assists her ridiculously rich by estranged siste I remember enjoying Belinda Alexandra's early books so I was looking forward to enjoying this one.
It's about a poor Parisian girl, Emma, a struggling but brilliant writer, who is promised that all her debts will be cancelled if she assists her ridiculously rich by estranged sister and her niece in New York. A lot of reviews of this book have mentioned that it is a glittering representation of America's Gilded Age, and it certainly is big on gold and jewels and gleam. I imagine the author was going for opulent.
I found I needed to suspend reality entirely to swallow it. My biggest issue was the writing. There is no show, don't tell. In fact it's written where every movement, action, emotion and perceived emotion is written in childlike and boring detail. Is it meant to be journalistic? It just feels poorly done and treats the reader like they're stupid.
There are so many naff turns of phrase like "my heart skipped a beat", "my heart was in my mouth", etc. On one page the main character has eaten a large meal now that she's rich and not having to chase mice around Paris sewers for a meal that doesn't actually happen, I would have liked it to though and she comments "It was going to take a lot of walking around New York to work off all this food".
If you're going to write a book set in the late 19th century don't use 21st century mentalities. I am sure no one thought or spoke like that in those times. Disappointed and won't read Alexandra again. Nov 26, Lauren rated it it was amazing. Belinda is a masterful storyteller and this was a beautifully written book. Emma is an author, but when her grandmother dies she is left with a debt. Caroline agrees to pay this debt if Emma moves to New York to help her niece, Isadora. I really enjoyed the relationship between Emma and Isadora. Without giving anything away, I loved the ending and was left satisfied when I finished the book!
Oct 13, Sharon Jarvis rated it it was amazing. Set in the late nineteenth century in Paris and then New York it vividly portrays the Gilded Age of wealth and richness beyond belief with characters to match. The extravagance of the houses matched by the clothes worn was incredible. While some of the wealthy characters display a social conscience there are many who are totally self-indulgent ignoring the increasing and poorer population in New York who are struggling to earn a decent income and live in rundown housing owned by the very rich.
The main character Emma takes us on her journey from Montmartre to New York City where she discovers a lot about her sister, niece and most of all, herself. The story kept my interest throughout and at times was very gripping and intense. A highly recommended read. Thank you to Netgalley and to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for an ebook copy to read and provide an honest review. Dec 15, Margaret Galbraith rated it really liked it. It took me a few chapters to 'get into this book' but about a third of the way in I really began to enjoy it.
There are so many twists and turns and Carole the evil sister never ceased to surprise me of what she was capable of doing to her sister and even more so to her daughter Isadora. Carole and Emma her younger sister are like chalk and cheese. Emma after 20 years of not seeing Carole who has now made her mark in society in New York is summoned from Paris to help her prepare Isadora for comi It took me a few chapters to 'get into this book' but about a third of the way in I really began to enjoy it.
Emma after 20 years of not seeing Carole who has now made her mark in society in New York is summoned from Paris to help her prepare Isadora for coming out into society! The evilness and heights Carole goes to just to be the best she can to keep in with the elite group in NY and prove she had the best house and the best of everything, is a stark contrast to poor Emma but we do not find out until near the end why this is the case between the two sisters!
No spoilers here but it's well worth a read if you like 19th century drama? Sep 19, Gloria Birdsall rated it really liked it. Emma has instant rapport with her niece but learns some dark and disturbing truths as she tries to establish a better relationship with her sister. Her new, luxurious life opens her eyes to the opulence and excesses of wealthy New Yorkers, but also eventually to the largely hidden inequality of the age.
Aug 14, Rosa rated it really liked it. At the turn of the century, the bohemian Paris scenes are in stark contrast to the excesses and lavish lifestyles of the upper class of New York. The author describes both these locations with detail and historical accuracy. When Emma finds herself at her sister's home in New York she is faced with challenges, unanswered questions and social situations completely foreign to her. H "The Invitation" is a tale of two sisters, long separated, set against a backdrop of two cities, Paris and New York. How the story of the two sisters plays out makes for a compelling read.
The author has, once again, skilfully woven a tale of secrets, mysteries and a touch of romance. A great read and highly recommended. Aug 30, Sandra W. Once more Belinda Alexandra transports the reader into another time and place with characters and situations so enthralling one is unable to put the book down.
Characters, situations and places are so well described they come to life through her in-depth research into psycholocical profiles, social customs, architecture, decor and fashion of the period. The cover-note in 'Gilded Ne Once more Belinda Alexandra transports the reader into another time and place with characters and situations so enthralling one is unable to put the book down.
The cover-note in 'Gilded New York' gives the clue that 'not all that glitters is solid gold' - with intrigues and scandals aplenty. Aug 08, Clare rated it it was amazing. The invitation is a heart-warming nostalgic novel that reminds us how important family really is. As with all of Belinda's novels you are quickly transported away to another era filled with decadence, opulence and whimsy - suddenly its 1am and you realise you are going to be late in the morning!
The detail Belinda describes is a testament to her as a writer and has me wishing I'd seen gilded-age New York myself! A perfect holiday read or just curl up with a cuppa The Invitation is a must read fo The invitation is a heart-warming nostalgic novel that reminds us how important family really is. A perfect holiday read or just curl up with a cuppa The Invitation is a must read for all woman, sisters and lovers of Belinda's books.
Nov 08, Toni rated it really liked it Shelves: This is a beautifully descriptive novel set in France and New York at the turn of the 20th century. Societal hierarchy was in full swing but social reform was making headway. This is a story of two sisters who are caught up in both struggles, one who will stop at nothing to be the queen of New York society and the other who is struggling to be an independant woman in a male dominated world. Oct 22, Tracey Russell rated it it was amazing. I loved The Invitation. Overall, I highly recommend both of Cherian's novels. I was left wanting more closure for the characters, but I found them to be incredibly well-drawn and realistic.
She does not complete her PhD, studies to become a real estate agent and starts working as one. They have three children Amanda, Lily and Sam. Lali Chacko is a Jacobite Syrian Christian from Cochin in Kerala, having studied in a girls school and college in Bangalore, studies to be a copywriter. She starts working and advertising and quits it when her only child, Aaron, is growing up. Sixteen years later, starts working as a secretary in the English department of a college.
Jonathan is a Jew who has rediscovered Judaism and is spending his free time attending classes or going to the synagogue. He gets married to Priya, a girl chosen by his parents and they have two sons, Nikhil and Nandan. He is a very successful person. When Vikram invites his friends to Santa Barbara to the graduation his son does not want a party , they accept. They feel it would be a reunion of sorts after 25 years.
It is time when they are undergoing crisis in their respective marries live, and deep inside, they all have something to hide from each other. When they go for the party, they come closer to their respective spouses and also open up to their friends. Each character has been described very well, I could actually picturise them and somewhere in each character, I felt there was a part that I could relate to. Though, the book ends a little abruptly and left me wanting for more. A sequel would be apt and very welcome. But overall, a very interesting book. May 21, Larry H rated it liked it.
All four had come to the U. All four expected to be tremendous successes in life and have even more successful children. Frances and Jay, who met during college, married shortly after graduation and had three children while Frances sold real estate and Jay worked in management.
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Lali married an American cardiologist and the two had one son, and Vikram founded his own successful computer company and never stopped pursuing his desire to have colossal success. Twenty-five years later, Vikram has invited his old friends to attend a party celebrating his son Nikhil's graduation from MIT.
And while Jay, Frances, and Lali decide to attend the party more out of curiosity than anything else, none of their lives have been as smooth as they believe Vikram's is. Frances, who abandoned the pursuit of her PhD when she started having children, now sells real estate, although she hasn't sold a house in more than a year, Jay's middle-management job isn't quite what he imagined he'd be doing, and their oldest daughter is failing 11th grade.
Lali's marriage is struggling as her husband begins to explore his neglected Jewish roots, and her son decides he wants to take a year off from college. And while Vikram is mostly concerned with the appearance of success, his son is not interested in pursuing the path Vikram feels he should.
As the four prepare for the party and then meet at Vikram's mansion in Newport Beach, they need to decide how much truth they'll divulge to their friends, not realizing how the truth reveals itself in ways you never expect. The plot of The Invitation is certainly familiar, but Anne Cherian's adept storytelling hooks you quickly and immerses you in each of the characters' lives and struggles. I felt like Cherian did a good job in trying not to have her characters adhere to cultural stereotypes, although you see how easy it is to slip back into old habits.
Ultimately, however, the story veered a bit into melodramatic territory, which I felt undercut the book's effectiveness. I think Cherian is a very good writer, but it seemed to me that she lost a little steam as the book neared its end, although it is still an enjoyable read.
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May 04, Laura rated it really liked it Shelves: Vik invites his three college friends to come celbrate his son's graduation from MIT. Vik is extremely proud of his some and sees this as proof of his success as well as his son's. Unfortuantley, Nik does not want the party and has other plans for what he wants to do with his life and it doesn't include taking over his father's company.
Frances and Jay accept with hesitation, they are excited to see thier friends but are afraid as well. They thought that success would come easily to them but ins Vik invites his three college friends to come celbrate his son's graduation from MIT.
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They thought that success would come easily to them but instead they are struggling to make ends meet. The one area that they thought they could brag about - their children is also not going to work. Their oldest daughter, is struggling in high school and a top college for her is no longer a possibility. Lali is also apphensive. While financially she and her husband are doing well, her personal life is another story. Her son is unsure if he wants to return to Harvard and her marriage is going through a challenge as her husband is rediscovering his roots.
She reaches out to an old flame and makes arrangements to see him before the party so she can see if the romance is still there. This is a story that looks at the lives of four Indian immigrants and the children that they raise in the U. Each of them had differnt backgrounds before heading to UCLA and each of them had the thought they they would be the most successful in their group of friends. But while this looks at the relationship between friends and family from the point of view of the Indian culture, it is very similar to how many people feel when reconnecting with old friends.
Each of them tries to put their best foot forward and gloss over the bad. I enjoyed this book because I think it was story that many people could relate to even if they are not familiar with Indian culture. Read as part of the Goodreads First Read program. Dec 05, Fleme Varkey rated it it was ok. Immigrant fiction always attracts a good readership, but Anne Cherian somewhere falls into a set pattern.
Umpteen books have been written on the confused Indian in America syndrome.
The Invitation by Anne Cherian
The Invitation by Anne Cherian belongs to that category. Thrown into the cauldron are a mix of Indians, influential and poor , a couple of stereotypes like Goans, South Indians, Jews and the virginity factor. That is garnished with the perennial Indian parent concern-Is my child doing better than the neighbour's child Immigrant fiction always attracts a good readership, but Anne Cherian somewhere falls into a set pattern.
That is garnished with the perennial Indian parent concern-Is my child doing better than the neighbour's child? It also brings out the Indians' obsession with big names. Frances and Jay are couple struggling to come to terms with their daughter Mandy's sudden change of form from rank holder to Cs and Ds. Lali and her Jewish doctor husband, Jonathan are coping with the empty nest syndrome as well as Jonathan's new fascination for the Jewish religion.
Vikram and Priya are handling a rebellious son who despite being an MIT graduate wants to be a cook. An idea that Vikram detests. Vikram holds a party on his son becoming a valedictorian. This party becomes a reunion of sorts as the three meet up after a year-gap and there begins the tale of unravelling the slender threads that bind these families. The party makes them face their fears, which so long they had hidden by keeping up pretences. The book like I said reads a lot like other immigrant fiction, but Anne does deserve credit for making it poignant and interesting.
The real-life resonances are too big to ignore. But yes, the ending deserves to be mentioned. Abrupt, yes, open-ended- No. So, take a chance if you must with this book. May 04, Jill rated it liked it. I won The Invitation on Goodreads and was excited to read it. I haven't read Anne Cherian's first book, but I was so happy I got to read her second one. The story is about a man named Vikram, an Indian American who became rich in the computer business. His son is about to graduate from MIT and he is inviting all his old graduate school friends to his son's graduation party.
His friends are Jay, Frances, and Lalli and the novel centers on Vikram's and their lives and how successful or unsuccessful they have been in their careers. When the date of the party comes close, each one of them must figure out what life in America has done for them. Some of them are not doing well financially or relationship wise, and they are afraid to go to the party because they feel as if they have not been successful. But when they all congregate to the party, Vikram and his friends find out that success financially is not all there is.
Success can mean having a career that you can enjoy or having close relationships with their family. The Invitation was very good; the ending was different than I was expecting, and I felt the story had a lesson in it that everyone would be helped by reading it. Anne Cherian illustrates that success can be shown by having good friendships, a close relationship with family, or loving the career one has; success does not have to be just about how rich one is.
Success means so much more than that. May 21, Susan rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this book about 4 people who become friends in college and each one goes in their own directions afterward. Many years have passed and they have all sparingly kept in touch while living their lives and keeping up appearances. The couple that had been together since college do I enjoyed this book about 4 people who become friends in college and each one goes in their own directions afterward.
The couple that had been together since college do their best to put on the masks of what their lives should look like The girl who went solo and found a wonderful husband and had a son who is now in Harvard, will hide the fact that their som is taking a year off from school and will probably never go back.. They can't let it look like he couldn't handle it.
In the midst of arranging the lavish party that Vic's some doesn't want, can he manage to keep his home life together long enough to look like the success everyone believes that he is? This book converges these separate lives in one night at a party, and we learn that past experiences definitely have a place in your future, especially the experiences you try the hardest to hide. Jun 05, Robin rated it liked it Shelves: Marital estrangement, mid-life career slump, the bafflement of parenting during the teen years -- they're the same for all Americans, regardless of country of origin.
Three stars -- the writing was entertaining and moved right along, but nothing deep here. This didn't really ring true for me. Gradua Marital estrangement, mid-life career slump, the bafflement of parenting during the teen years -- they're the same for all Americans, regardless of country of origin. Graduate students in big universities tend to hang out with members of their own department.
Would the MBA, the anthropologist, and the computer scientist even cross paths? There were so many interesting threads that could have been followed out: What was the real reason for Frances' broken engagement? Did Mandy manage to turn her life around? Did the marriages survive? What was Aaron's real reason for wanting to leave Harvard? How does making his bar mitzvah solve anything? What was life like for the families left behind in India? The skimpy ending was, in particular, a disappointment. I read it several times to see if I missed something.
Sep 14, Arlene rated it liked it. When Vikram invites three of his college friends to his son s graduation from MIT, they accept out of obligation and curiosity, viewing the party as a twenty-fifth reunion of sorts. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Invitation by Lucy Foley.
An evocative love story set along the Italian Riviera about a group of charismatic stars who all have secrets and pasts they try desperately--and dangerously--to hide. Hal, an itinerant journalist flailing in the post-war darkness, has come to the Eternal City to lose himself and to seek absolution for the thing that haunts him.
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One evening he finds himself on t An evocative love story set along the Italian Riviera about a group of charismatic stars who all have secrets and pasts they try desperately--and dangerously--to hide. One evening he finds himself on the steps of a palazzo, walking into a world of privilege and light.
Here, on a rooftop above the city, he meets the mysterious Stella. Hal and Stella are from different worlds, but their connection is magnetic. Together, they escape the crowded party and imagine a different life, even if it's just for a night. Yet Stella vanishes all too quickly, and Hal is certain their paths won't cross again. But a year later they are unexpectedly thrown together, after Hal receives an invitation he cannot resist.
An Italian Contessa asks him to assist on a trip of a lifetime--acting as a reporter on a tremendous yacht, skimming its way along the Italian coast toward Cannes film festival, the most famous artists and movie stars of the day gathered to promote a new film. Of all the luminaries aboard--an Italian ingenue, an American star, a reclusive director--only one holds Hal in thrall: And while each has a past that belies the gilded surface, Stella has the most to hide.
As Hal's obsession with Stella grows, he becomes determined to bring back the girl she once was, the girl who's been confined to history. Hardcover , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Invitation , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Dec 12, Bill Kupersmith rated it really liked it.
But on this round the time warp was vicarious. The parallels are remarkable.
In both an expatriate English writer exiled penuriously to a Mediterranean city has a passionate relationship with the beautiful wife of a wealthy man, a woman whose background is a mystery. And in both cases the aftermath of their affair drives the Englishman to seek solitary refuge on the other side of the Med — a Greek island for Durrell, Morocco for Foley. So as I was currently reading The Invitation as a historical, my sixteen year old self was enjoying it as a contemporary, depicting a world he could only fantasize about ever experiencing.
Also, I doubt a water-ski craft would be built of teak. The subplot about the 16th-century Genoese sea captain seemed both awkward and pretentious. Some readers will surely like the ending, but I found it a bit tepid. But I must give kudos to Emma Gregory for her narration. In general she narrated in Posh English dialect, but I was so agreeably surprised by the voice she gave Stella. Aug 14, TL marked it as dnf Shelves: I received this via Goodreads FirstReads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. I was very lucky to receive a hardback - stunning cover photo! If you are looking for a holiday from the comfort of your own home this summer, then I can highly recommend this book!
Set mainly around the Italian Riviera, this is a stunning story of romance, secret pasts, glamour and chance meetings. Some things are maybe just meant to be Hal and Stella are the two main characters of this book and we I was very lucky to receive a hardback - stunning cover photo! Hal and Stella are the two main characters of this book and we follow both their stories lines, both past and present, as their paths cross.
First in Rome for one night they both can't forget, and then 2 years later aboard a yacht set for Cannes. Hal has been invited along by the Contessa as a journalist to report for a magazine on the glamourous lives of those on the yacht, and Stella is there as the wife of one of the major investors in the film. As the lost souls find each other again, the story revolves around their pasts that they seem to be unable to shake, and their futures that they both seem unsure of whether they deserve happiness. The settings described are stunning and really transports you aboard to experience the trip with all the characters.
It is full of intrigue as their pasts are slowly revealed and how it has impacted on where they are heading with their lives and I found the flashbacks fascinating as they described much harder and darker times, which is the polar opposite of the wealth and glamour of the lives now. This is the first book i've read by Lucy Foley and will definitely be looking to read more from her as I found her style of writing so evocative and appealing. Glamorous and gorgeously written - but improbable, repetitive and dare I say it? Having been relatively unimpressed by The Book of Lost and Found and Last Letter from Istanbul , I was dubious at first - but the temptation of the Italian Riviera was too good to resist.
In this aspect, I was certainly not disappointed. The Mediterranean setting is wonderful and the ambience is stunning; Lucy Foley has an exquisite talen Glamorous and gorgeously written - but improbable, repetitive and dare I say it? The Mediterranean setting is wonderful and the ambience is stunning; Lucy Foley has an exquisite talent for elegant and immersive descriptive writing. Where her work falls short for me is her plot and characterisation.
This facet of the novel is what makes it compelling. His sole function is to operate as a romantic distraction for the only vaguely interesting character in the entire novel, Stella. In short, the one dimensional characters and their romance are utterly uninspiring. A light and, I suppose, classy read, but my total lack of emotional investment undermined my enjoyment.
Aug 31, Joanna Park rated it really liked it. The Invitation is definitely one of those books that takes you to another time and place. I really felt like I was travelling through post war Europe with the characters, experiencing all the sights with them. I now really hope to travel through Europe at some point and visit all the countries they did. I loved the Countessa! I thought she was such a fantastic character, so full of life despite her age , welcoming, friendly and a tad mischievous.
Her obvious care towards her guests and her meddl The Invitation is definitely one of those books that takes you to another time and place.
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Her obvious care towards her guests and her meddling in their lives to increase their happiness, was lovely to read about. All the characters go on a personal journey throughout the book and it was lovely to see how much they had changed towards the end. The building relationship between Stella and Hal was brilliantly done and seemed very real. It would have been easy for the author to write the relationship a lot more like a Hollywood movie and I was very pleased that she resisted this urge and created a much more everyday relationship.
This is not to say that the relationship was boring, far from it! The many twists and turns and oppositions to their relationship kept the story very interesting. I felt intimately involved, almost like I was a friend of the couple trying to look out for them, and wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. I was very pleased with how it ended and thought it was a very appropriate ending for the book. I believe her third book, Last Letters from Istanbul is available in March and I will very much be looking forward to reading it.
If you are a fan of Victoria Hislop of Kate Morton you will very much enjoy this book. Jul 31, Liviu rated it it was amazing Shelves: A novel I picked up randomly in the bookstore to browse as the blurb seemed interesting and then I couldn't put down and had to read it until the end late in the evenings at home.
While it belongs to the "long ago" secrets sub-genre and it splits the action between the present Rome and the Ligurian coast , where the main characters meet and then go on a movie promotional trip on a yacht, he being an English expatriate, writer, journalist, though with an Italian mother and a brigadier father, A novel I picked up randomly in the bookstore to browse as the blurb seemed interesting and then I couldn't put down and had to read it until the end late in the evenings at home.
Given the above, I have to say that the book worked really, really well for me as I enjoyed everything - the prose, the characters, the description - and the ending was excellent though again I thought it would go that way despite the first pages which start the recollection of the main character a few years later Overall, a deeply personal book that worked superbly for me and the only thing I would add is to give it a try and see if it works for you too.
Aug 10, Sandra rated it it was ok Shelves: This book is so conflicting. I wanted to like this book a lot. The setting is interesting, the cover is stunning, the era is interesting, but there is just too much of could have been. But now we come to the two or two and a half star issue. The characters and especially Stella made this a 2 and a half star book.
Despite her interesting background she couldn't but bore me. I have a suspicion that she was likely broken beyond repair from the moment we met her in She managed to escape the Spanish civil war with the help of her husband and married him, but after that things turn stagnant. She is a rich wife first, second and third. If she had been a mother, if she had had a job, an activist for something, anything really.
That would have helped to make her more interesting. As things stand she was a rich wife. Which brings me to why I don't get why Hal was so very into her. He was willing to think the worst of her husband and see her as the embodiment of all that was good. Much good it did him in the end. That ending BTW was, well you'll have to read it for yourself. Let me just say it was a neat trick or not so neat at all depending which way you look at it. Apr 14, Artemiz rated it liked it Shelves: The Invitation by Lucy Foley for me is a mix on four stories - Hal's, Stella's, The old sea captains and then the story that includes those three stories.
It's an interesting story, an interesting and appalling story about war, how it affects relationships, families and hope, but I really did not understand the necessity of the old captains story and how come everyone on the yacht treated Hal, the journalist, as their confessor, and they all told him about their personal secrets and tragedy. Tru The Invitation by Lucy Foley for me is a mix on four stories - Hal's, Stella's, The old sea captains and then the story that includes those three stories.