Monday, July 25, 2016

"The Imperial Wife"

Irina Reyn’s first novel What Happened to Anna K. was published in August 2008. It was one of the “Ten Best Books of the Year” by Entertainment Weekly, one of’s Best Books of August 2008, and made both the San Francisco Chronicle’s and Washington Post’s “Best Books of the Year List.” It won of the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction from the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Reyn applied the Page 69 Test to her  new novel, The Imperial Wife, and reported the following:
Page 69 begins with a question, "Are you ready to meet the Vandermotters?" This is posed by a serious boyfriend of Tanya Kagan's who hopes to introduce her to his parents, Upper East Side old-money descendants from early Dutch settlers. Tanya, on the other hand, is a Russian-Jewish immigrant from Moscow by way of Queens, a junior cataloger at a major New York auction house feeling thoroughly out of her element among the Town&Country/Greenwich/Hermes-wearing set.

The answer here is both yes and no. On one hand, she has no business hobnobbing inside a milieu as foreign to her as outer space. On the other hand, as someone with her face pressed to the glass of "Americanness," she is fascinated by what they represent. Just as she tries to become the kind of woman the Vandermotters would approve of, so does she prepare for the evening by purchasing a Chanel blazer she thinks is an approximation of the "right" outfit. But she makes sure to hold on to the tag. She can't afford it and plans to return it. Whether or not she will be forced to return Carl as well, remains to be seen...
Learn more about the book and author at Irina Reyn's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Happened to Anna K.

--Marshal Zeringue