Jessica Knoll Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel

ISBN 13 : 9781442395855

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel

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9781442395855: Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
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Chapter 1

               I inspected the knife in my hand.
               “That’s the Shun. Feel how light it is compared to the Wüsthof?”
               I pricked a finger on the blade’s witchy chin, testing. The handle was supposed to be moisture resistant, but it was quickly going humid in my grip.
               “I think that design is better suited for someone of your stature.” I looked up at the sales associate, bracing for the word people always use to describe short girls hungry to hear “thin.” “Petite.” He smiled like I should be flattered. Slender, elegant, graceful—now there’s a compliment that might actually defang me.
               Another hand, the skin several shades lighter than my own, appeared in the frame and made a grab for the handle. “Can I feel?” I looked up at him too: my fiancé. That word didn’t bother me so much as the one that came after it. Husband. That Word laced the corset tighter, crushing organs, sending panic into my throat with the bright beat of a distress signal. I could decide not to let go. Slip the forged nickel and stainless steel blade (the Shun, decided I liked it better) soundlessly into his stomach. The salesman would probably emit a simple dignified “Oh!” It was the mother carrying her crusty-nosed baby behind him who was the screamer. You could just tell she was that dangerous combination of bored and dramatic, that she would gleefully, tearfully recount the attack to the news reporters who would later swarm the scene. I turned the knife over before I could tense, before I could lunge, before every muscle in my body, forever on high alert, contracted as if on autopilot.

“I’m excited,” Luke said, as we stepped out of Williams-Sonoma and onto Fifty-Ninth Street, a gasp of icy AC curdling in our wake. “Are you?”
               “I love those red wine glasses.” I threaded my fingers with his to show him how much I meant it. It was the thought of the “sets” that I couldn't bear. Inevitably, we were going to end up with six bread plates, four salad plates, and eight dinner plates, and I would never get around to completing their little china family. They’d sulk on the kitchen table, Luke always offering to put them away and me snapping, “Not yet,” until one day, long after the wedding, I’d get a sudden, manic inspiration to take the 4/5 uptown, storm into Williams-Sonoma like a warrior Martha Stewart, only to discover that they’d discontinued the Louvre pattern we’d chosen all those years ago. “Can we get pizza?”
               Luke laughed and squeezed my side. “Where does it all go?”   
               My hand went rigid in his. “It’s all the working out, I think. I’m starving.” That was a lie. I was still nauseous from the thick Reuben sandwich, pink and overstuffed as a wedding invitation, that I’d eaten for lunch.  
               “Patsy’s?” I tried to make it sound like I’d just come up with this idea, when in reality I’d been fantasizing about extracting a slice from a Patsy’s pie, strings of white cheese stretching, but not snapping, forcing me to pinch it between my fingers and pull, a bonus glob of mozzarella sliding off someone else’s slice. This wet dream had been playing on a loop since last Thursday, when we decided Sunday would be the day we finally took care of the registry. (“People are asking, Tif.” “I know, Mom, we’re getting to it.” “The wedding is five months away!”).
               “I’m not hungry”—Luke’s shoulders rose— “but if you really want to.” What a sport.  
               We continued to hold hands as we crossed Lexington Ave, dodging packs of strong-legged women in white walking shorts and supportive shoes, toting whatever treasures the Victoria’s Secret on Fifth Avenue contained that the one in Minnesota did not; a cavalry of Long Island girls, the straps of their gladiator sandals twisting up their honeyed calves like leather vines on a tree. They looked at Luke. They looked at me. They didn’t question it. I’d worked tirelessly to assemble a worthy rival, a Carolyn to his JFK Jr. We made a left, walking to Sixtieth Street before making another right. It was only 5:00 P.M. when we crossed Third Avenue, found the restaurant’s tables set and lonely. The fun New Yorkers were still brunching. I used to be one of them.
               “Outside?” the hostess asked. We nodded and she plucked two menus from an empty table, motioning for us to follow her.
               “Can I have a glass of Montepulciano?” The hostess raised her eyebrows indignantly and I could imagine what she was thinking— that’s the waiter’s job—but I just smiled sweetly at her: See how nice I am? How unreasonable you’re being? You should be ashamed of yourself. 
               She turned her sigh on Luke. “You?”
               “Just water.” When she walked away, “I don't know how you can drink red when it’s so hot out.”
               I shrugged. “White just doesn't go with pizza.” White was reserved for those nights when I felt light, pretty. When I had it in me to ignore the pasta portion of the menu. I once wrote some tip in The Women’s Magazine, “A study found that the act of physically closing your menu once you’ve decided what to order can make you feel more satisfied with your choice. So go with the pan-seared sole and snap that menu shut before you start eye-sexing the penne alla vodka.”  LoLo, my boss, had underlined the words “eye-sexing” and written, “Hilarious.” God, I hate pan-seared sole.
               “So what else do we have left to do?” Luke leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head like he was about to do a sit-up, entirely innocent that those were fighting words. Venom pooled in my brown eyes and I hurried to bat it away. 
               “A lot.” I counted on my fingers. “All the stationery—so that’s the invitations, the menus, the programs, the place cards, all of that. I have to find a hair and makeup person, and figure out a bridesmaid dress for Nell and the girls. We also have to get back to the travel agent—I really don’t want to do Dubai. I know”—I held up my hands before Luke could say anything— “we can’t do the whole time in the Maldives. There’s only so much lying around on a beach you can do before you lose it. But can’t we do a few days in London or Paris after?” 
               Luke’s face was intent as he nodded. He had freckles on his nose year round, but by mid-May they spread to his temples, where they would remain until Thanksgiving. This was my fourth summer with Luke, and every year I watched as all that good, healthy outdoor activity— running, surfing, golfing, kite boarding—multiplied the golden flecks on his nose like cancer cells. He had me going for a while too, this obnoxious dedication to movement, to endorphins, to seizing the day. Not even a hangover could bleed this wholesome vigor. I used to set my alarm for 1:00 P.M. on Saturdays, which Luke thought was adorable. “You’re so small and you need so much sleep,” he would say as he nuzzled me awake in the afternoon. “Small,” another description of my body I detest. What do I have to do to get someone to call me “skinny”? 
                I came clean eventually. It’s not that I require an inordinate amount of sleep, it’s that I haven’t been sleeping when you think I’ve been sleeping. I could never imagine submitting myself to a state of unconsciousness at the same time everyone else goes under. I can only sleep—really sleep, not the thin-lipped rest I’ve learned to live on during the week— when sunlight explodes off the Freedom Tower and forces me to the other side of the bed, when I can hear Luke puttering around the kitchen, making egg-white omelettes, the neighbors next door arguing over who took the trash out last. Banal, everyday reminders that life is so boring it can’t possibly terrorize anyone. That dull fuzz in my ears, that’s when I sleep.
               “We should aim to do one thing every day,” Luke concluded.
                “Luke, I do three things every day.” There was a snap in my voice that I meant to remove. I also didn’t have a right to it. I should do three things every day, but instead I sit, paralyzed in front of my computer, beating myself up for not doing three things every day like I promised myself I would. I’ve determined this is more time-consuming and stressful than actually doing the three goddamn things a day, and, therefore, I’m entitled to my fury. 
               I thought of the one thing I was actually on top of. “Do you even know how many back-and-forths I’ve had with the invitations person?” I’d burdened the stationer—a wisp of an Asian woman whose nervous disposition infuriated me—with so many questions: Does it look cheap to do letterpress for the invitation but not for the RSVP cards? Will anyone notice if we use a calligrapher for the addresses on the envelope but script for the invitation?  I was terrified of making a decision that would expose me. I’ve been in New York for six years and it’s been like an extended master’s program in how to appear effortlessly moneyed—only now with that downtown edge. First semester, I learned that Jack Roger sandals, so revered in college, screamed, “My small liberal arts school will always be the center of the universe!” I’d found a new axis, so into the trash went my gold, silver, and white pairs. Same with the mini Coach baguette (gross). Then it was on to the realization that Kleinfeld, which seemed so glamorous, a classic New York institution, was actually a tacky wedding gown factory frequented only by bridge and tunnelers (B & Ts—also learned what that meant). I opted for a small boutique in Meatpacking, the racks carefully curated with Marchesa, Reem Acra, and Carolina Herrera. And all those dim, crowded clubs, manned by beefy doormen and red ropes, throbbing furiously with Tiësto and hips? That’s not how self-respecting urbanites spend their Friday nights. No, instead we pay sixteen dollars for a plate of frisée, wash it down with vodka sodas at a dive bar in the East Village, all while wearing cheap-looking $495 Rag & Bone booties.  
                I had six leisurely years to get to where I am now: fiancé in finance, first-name basis with the hostess at Locanda Verde, the latest Chloé hooked over my wrist (not Céline, but at least I knew better than to parade around a monstrous Louis Vuitton like it was the eighth wonder of the world). Plenty of time to hone my craft. But wedding planning, now that has a much steeper learning curve. You get engaged in November, and then you have one month to study your materials, to discover that the barn at Blue Hill—where you thought you would get married—has been done, and retooled old banks that charge a twenty-thousand-dollar location fee are now the tits. You have two months to pore over wedding magazines and blogs, to consult with your gay co-workers at The Women’s Magazine, to discover that strapless wedding gowns are offensively middlebrow. Now you’re three months into the whole thing, and you still have to find a photographer with nary a duck-face bride in his portfolio (harder than it sounds), bridesmaids’ dresses that don’t look anything like bridesmaids’ dresses, plus a florist who can secure you anemones out of season because, peonies? What is this, amateur hour? One wrong move and everyone will see right through your tastefully tan spray tan to the trashy guidette who doesn’t know to pass the salt and pepper together. I thought that by twenty-eight I could stop trying to prove myself and relax already. But this fight just gets bloodier with age. 
                 “And you still haven’t gotten me your addresses for the calligrapher,” I said, even though secretly, I was relieved to have more time to torture the skittish stationer.
               “I’m working on them,” Luke sighed.
               “They won’t go out when we want them to go out if you don't get them to me this week. I’ve been asking for a month.”  
               “I’ve been busy!”
               “And you think I haven’t?”
               Bickering. It’s so much uglier than a heated, dish-smashing fight, isn’t it? At least after that you have sex on the floor of the kitchen, shards bearing the braid of the Louvre pattern weaving an imprint on your back. No man feels very much compelled to rip your clothes off after you inform him, bitchily, that he left one lone turd floating in the toilet. 
               I clenched my fists, flexed my fingers wide as though I could expel the rage like Spider-Man’s web. Just say it. “I’m sorry.” I offered up my most pathetic sigh as collateral. “I’m just really tired.”
               An invisible hand passed over Luke’s face, wiped away his frustration with me. “Why don’t you just go to the doctor? You really should be on Ambien or something.”
               I nodded, pretending to consider the idea, but sleeping pills are just button-shaped vuln...

Revue de presse :

“With the cunning and verve of Gillian Flynn but with a febrile intensity all its own, Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive is a debut you won’t want to miss. Sly, darkly funny and chilling-to-the bone, it gets under your skin and stays there.” (Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me and The Fever)

“The most compelling debut novel I've read in years! Luckiest Girl Alive is intriguing, surprising, and even shockingly funny at times. And Ani FaNelli is a complex, heartbreaking, and unforgettable heroine.” (John Searles, author of Help for the Haunted)

“At turns funny, shocking, violent and heart-rending, Luckiest Girl Alive hooks its reader and doesn't let go. Jessica Knoll's twisted, twisting debut beautifully explores reinvention, retribution and redemption—and all the rawness in between.” (Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet)

“Fresh, funny, biting and shocking— Luckiest Girl Alive kept me riveted from cover to cover. I absolutely loved it.” (Lauren Weisberger, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada)

Luckiest Girl Alive is a wickedly well-plotted page-turner that lifts back the veil of Ani FaNelli’s glamour and privilege to tread amongst the sharp emotional thorns lying beneath. Knoll’s novel dazzles with humor, cultural insight, and thematic heft.” (Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa)

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Jessica Knoll
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ISBN 10 : 1442395850 ISBN 13 : 9781442395855
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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER AUDIO, United States, 2015. CD-Audio. État : New. Unabridged. 150 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New. Now on CD! An instant New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller, Jessica Knoll s debut novel follows a young woman striving to create the perfect life--husband, home, and career--until a violent incident from her past threatens to unravel everything and expose her most shocking secret of all. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiance, she s this close to living the perfect life she s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to have it all and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that s bigger than it first appears. The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for--or, will it at long last, set Ani free?. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9781442395855

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Description du livre SIMON SCHUSTER AUDIO, United States, 2015. CD-Audio. État : New. Unabridged. 150 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New. Now on CD! An instant New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller, Jessica Knoll s debut novel follows a young woman striving to create the perfect life--husband, home, and career--until a violent incident from her past threatens to unravel everything and expose her most shocking secret of all. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiance, she s this close to living the perfect life she s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to have it all and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that s bigger than it first appears. The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for--or, will it at long last, set Ani free?. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9781442395855

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Description du livre Simon & Schuster Audio. No binding. État : New. Audio CD. Dimensions: 5.8in. x 5.1in. x 0.9in.HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE. Ani FaNelli seems to have it all: a glamorous job at a glossy magazine; an enviable figure with the wardrobe to match; and a handsome fianc from a distinguished blue blood family. But Ani FaNelli is an invention, that veneer of perfection carefully assembled in an attempt to distance herself from a shocking, sordid past. As her wedding draws near, a documentary producer invites Ani to speak about the chilling incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School. Determined once and for all to silence the whispers of suspicion and blame, Ani must weigh her options carefully, when telling the whole truth could destroy the picture-perfect life shes worked so hard to create. With a singular voice and a twist you wont see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the deep-seated desire to fit in and the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to have it all. Ani FaNelli is a complex and vulnerable heroineone whose sharp edges protect a truth that will move, scandalize, and surprise you. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Audio CD. N° de réf. du libraire 9781442395855

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