I have promised that every ‘Themed Week’ I will provide you with my list of top, relevant to a theme books. Thus, here are my five favourite works of literature where New York City is a fascinating and magnificent backdrop hero!
MY PERSONAL TOP 5 ‘NYC’ BOOKS:
1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
A wonderful, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about New York’s late 19th-century upper-class society. The beautifully written story follows distinguished lawyer, Newland Archer, who is content with his engagement to shy, proper, sweet May (daughter of a very wealthy family of Manhattan), up until he meets May’s cousin: Countess Ellen Olenska. Archer madly and desperately falls in love with the scandalous and beautiful Countess who is surrounded by rumours about separation from her husband, infidelity and nonconformist behaviour. The book perfectly, but very subtly, reflects the savage, gossipy nature of New York's elite society of the early Gilded Age.
You will like it if you enjoy: period dramas, The Forsyte Saga, stories about forbidden love
2. The Bonfire of the Vanities
Tom Wolfe’s modern, American satire about ambition, racism, social class differences, politics and greed in New York City during the 80s. The Bonfire of the Varieties follows the story of Sherman McCoy - a Wall Street trader who has it all: a Park Avenue apartment, money, power, a beautiful wife and a foxy mistress: Maria Ruskin. Wolfe masterfully captures the essence of New York City and the excess of Wall Street in the 1980s.
You will like it if you enjoy: The Wolf of Wall Street, intriguing plots, crime stories of the rich and powerful
3. Sister Carrie
A novel by one of my favourite American writers: Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie is about a young girl named Carrie from rural Wisconsin who has big dreams of becoming an actress and striving for living a lavish, glamorous lifestyle. On the way to her 'American Dream', Carrie moves to Chicago, then to New York City and is not above becoming a mistress to older, powerful men and later becomes a famous actress in New York City. It is noteworthy that Sister Carrie is one of the first works of literature where the main heroine acts against moral codes and, moreover, does not face any consequences for it. Carrie is, without a doubt, a prototype of the modern ‘gold-digger’ type of woman and is one of the most controversial female characters in American literature at the beginning of the 20th century.
You will like it if you enjoy: novels about maverick women, writings by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
4. American Psycho
I bet you have heard about this novel and at least watched the movie by the same name. Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial work of fiction is another story set on Wall Street. Patrick Bateman, the main character, is a good-looking, well-educated and almost obscenely rich yuppie who narrates his everyday activities. His daily life consists of working on Wall Street where he earns a fortune, cocaine infused Friday nights with colleagues, thoughts about proper fashion and etiquette of his fellow elite class members. While at night he casually murders people. Bateman is a monster created by consumer culture, and sees everything, even people, as a commodity.
You will like it if you enjoy: reading Chuck Palahniuk, watching psychological trillers, stories about serial killers.
BONUS: American Psycho the musical is coming to New York on March 24!
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Another book that has been immortalized and got even more popular with its film adaptation. Truman Capote created one of the most memorable fictional characters in America: charming, beautiful and naive 'American geisha' living in Manhattan, Holly Golightly. This witty novella and the female protagonist who has been portrayed by the stunning Audrey Hepburn, has captured millions of hearts all over the world.
By the way, one of the future ‘Themed Weeks’ on Pastiche.today might sing an ode to the Breakfast at Tiffany’s (hint hint)!
You will like it if you enjoy: observing people with a glamorous lifestyle, staring at impeccably stylish women, everything about Audrey Hepburn
What are your favourite 'NYC based' books? Comment below!