The Vixen by Francine Prose

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The way I can describe this is think Mad Men except its publishing and you’re following the lowest intern who is a mess. The Vixen is one of the most self aware books Iโ€™ve read and it does so by having fun. Simon is hilariously unaware of the events unfolding around him and it makes piecing it together while he’s down bad so entertaining. It mangages to make you laugh while making pointed commentary towards classicism and antisemitism too.

-Ndobe ๐Ÿ™‚

Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Francine Prose returns with a dazzling new novel set in the glamorous world of 1950s New York publishing, the story of a young man tasked with editing a steamy bodice-ripper based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenbergโ€”an assignment that will reveal the true cost of entering that seductive, dangerous new world.

โ€œFrancine Prose is a powerhouse.ย The Vixenย will fascinate and complicate the histories that haunt our present moments. Like Coney Islandโ€™s Cyclone, this story tumbles and tangles a readerโ€™s grip of reality. Itโ€™s told with the heart, humor and daring of a true artist. Proseโ€™sย Vixenย is a triumph and a trip though the solid magic that books make real.โ€โ€”Samantha Hunt

โ€œA rollicking trickster of a novel, wondrously funny and wickedly addictive.โ€โ€”Maria Semple

Itโ€™s 1953, and Simon Putnam, a recent Harvard graduate newly hired by a distinguished New York publishing firm, has entered a glittering world of three-martini lunches, exclusive literary parties, and old-money aristocrats in exquisitely tailored suits, a far cry from his loving, middle-class Jewish family in Coney Island.

But Simonโ€™s first assignmentโ€”editingย The Vixen, the Patriot and the Fanatic,ย a lurid bodice-ripper improbably based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a potboiler intended to shore up the firmโ€™s failing financesโ€”makes him question the cost of admission. Because Simon has a secret that, at the height of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings, he cannot reveal: his beloved mother was a childhood friend of Ethel Rosenbergโ€™s. His parents mourn Ethelโ€™s death.

Simonโ€™s dilemma grows thornier when he meetsย The Vixenโ€™s author, the startlingly beautiful, reckless, seductive Anya Partridge, ensconced in her opium-scented boudoir in a luxury Hudson River mental asylum. As mysteries deepen, as the confluence of sex, money, politics and power spirals out of Simonโ€™s control, he must face what heโ€™s lost by exchanging the loving safety of his middle-class Jewish parentsโ€™ Coney Island apartment for the witty, whiskey-soaked orbit of his charismatic boss, the legendary Warren Landry. Gradually Simon realizes that the people around him are not what they seem, that everyone is keeping secrets, that ordinary events may conceal a diabolical plotโ€”and that these crises may steer him toward a brighter future.

At once domestic and political, contemporary and historic, funny and heartbreaking, enlivened by surprising plot turns and passages from Anyaโ€™s hilariously bad novel,ย The Vixenย illuminates a period of history with eerily striking similarities to the current moment. Meanwhile it asks timeless questions: How do we balance ambition and conscience? What do social mobility and cultural assimilation require us to sacrifice? How do we develop an authentic self, discover a vocation, and learn to live with the mysteries of love, family, art, life, and loss?

The Vixen by Francine Prose
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