We Could Be Beautiful is about a 44-year-old rich woman named Catherine West. Catherine is all about the luxury and the privilege: she’s got a perfectly immaculate West Village home stocked with fine art, the best furniture, and a whole lot of hired help. She gets $80k a month from her trust fund, has a mother slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and the thing that Catherine wants more than anything is to be married and have a child. Enter William Stockton, an impeccably dressed and well-spoken businessman who meets Catherine at an art gallery. It was love at first sight. Or was it?
Called “psychological,” this book aims to fully portray several characters in all their depth, foibles, and idiosyncrasies. There’s Catherine, who thinks she’s moral and strong, but who is actually petulant, childish, spoiled, privileged, and completely farcical. There’s William Stockton, a man who seems perfect but who is absolutely too good to be true. And then there’s Catherine’s sister Caroline, more honest and self-aware than her sister, and much more aware of her own privilege.
The plot is basically this: 200 pages of Catherine agonizing over William’s every move after they meet, and being incredibly immature and insecure for an older woman with everything she could possibly want. Then, the second 150-odd pages are spent in some very disorganized, very amateur suspense-building toward a conclusion that was both predictable and wholly uninteresting. Catherine loses her trust, must get married and have a child to trigger a clause in her father’s will so she can get $10 million per child, and then uncovers some very unsavory family secrets that leave her perfect, luxuriously manicured world shattered.
The hook, of course, is that “money can’t buy happiness” and all that shtick, but as much as I wanted to find deeper meaning in Catherine’s whining and complaining, and to think that the arc of the story triggered a change in her, even after the reader discovers, very predictably, that all is not well in paradise, Catherine doesn’t evolve so much as fire off some trite clichés at the end of the novel.
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t. The author, Swan Huntley, went to Columbia University’s MFA program, a very prestigious and competitive program. It did not show. The sentences were short and choppy, full of fluff and no meaning whatsoever. I was highly disappointed in this book.
Characters? One-dimensional. Writing? Meh. Plot? Predictable! I am usually very easy to please when it comes to books, but this one is a skip for me. If you’ve read it or want to read it, let me know what you think in the comments!
I received this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This title will be released today, June 28, 2016.