The After Party
Book Review - The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
It's my birthday!! Let's party!
With a title like The After Party, you might expect a book filled with glitz and glamour and lots of fun! This book did have some of that, but in the end, it was a bit of a sad story and nothing close to a "happy ever after" ending. Still, this is the perfect book to review on my birthday. It has a lot of my favorite things: fashion, history, and a good story based on a real place.
Many of the parties and after parties in this book took place at Houston's Shamrock Hotel, a real hotel that was designed by architect Wyatt C. Hedrick and constructed between 1946 and 1949. For 30 years, it was owned and operated by Hilton Hotels and after years of financial struggles it was demolished in 1987. The author did a great job describing the hotel's history of glamorous and lively social gatherings.
The story centers around two young women in the 1950s: Joan Fortier and Cece Buchanan. Cece narrates the story from her perspective but the story largely focuses on Joan, Cece's best friend since childhood. Where Cece is a people-pleaser and tries to be a good girl, Joan is the life of the party and always looking for adventure (and often trouble.) Cece enjoys being Joan's sidekick, she gets to be close to the woman every man desires and every woman envies without being the center of attention. But when Joan disappears without telling Cece where she's going, Cece is both heartbroken to lose her best friend but also becomes aware that she really didn't know Joan all that well.
The book focuses on themes of friendship and self-discovery, while the majority of the story is about Joan and her antics, in the end the reader sees that it was really a coming of age story about Cece as she discovers who she is on her own, besides being Joan's best friend. She also takes a step back to re-evaluate her friendship with Joan. Does she even like Joan anymore? Were they ever really friends? Did she know Joan at all or was she just like all the other women admiring Joan from afar?
I listened to this book via Audible, and I thought Dorothy Dillingham Blue did a great job performing the parts of both Cece and Joan - two very different characters. Audible is often hit or miss, sometimes it can really enhance a story and sometimes it can ruin it (stay tuned on Thursday for my review of Last Days of Cafe Leila to see how some books are great when performed and others should only be read.) I loved this book and it is a perfect one to share on my birthday. Let the party (and after parties!) begin!
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