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Happy Hour: A Novel (Paperback)
This effervescent debut novel, even when I was several chapters in, had the most persistent quality of timelessness I can remember, to the point where it took a fair amount of close reading and deductive reasoning to ascertain that it is, in fact, set during more or less the present day. Perhaps because Isa, our narrator and heroine, is a drifting citizen of the world (in that she doesn’t really belong anywhere) and has a distinctly old world manner, or because the precariously unmoored woman, surviving on the strength of her youth and wits, is such an ancient and familiar type, it’s hard to think of her as a millennial.
In any case, Isa Shepley and her accomplice, Gala Novak, are part party-girl, part bit character in a Hemingway novel, making pronouncements with the profound ring of truth in short-lived but memorable appearances. In New York for the summer, with dodgy immigration status, and surviving by devising schemes for quick cash and leaning on well-resourced friends and strangers, Isa and Gala make fleeting romantic connections, fight with each other and make up, narrowly escape fraught situations, and meditate seriously on what constitutes a “full” life, usually while reapplying makeup in bathrooms or smoking anxious cigarettes on sidewalks.
There’s a lot happening in Happy Hour, and Granados does something special in folding it all into a short, zippy narrative. The women’s unsettled and often dangerous circumstances will keep you on the edge of your seat, but even at Isa’s most frantic, her poise and intelligence will assure you she’ll be just fine.— Sarah, Longfellow Books
With the verve and bite of Ottessa Moshfegh and the barbed charm of Nancy Mitford, this stunning debut about a young ingénue in the big city is “as refreshing as gin fizz . . . a wild careening joyride through a hot sultry summer in New York” (Rachel Syme, The New Yorker).
Isa Epley, all of twenty-one years old, is already wise enough to understand that the purpose of life is the pursuit of pleasure. She arrives in New York with her newly blond best friend looking for adventure. They have little money, but that’s hardly going to stop them.
By day, the girls sell clothes on a market stall, pinching pennies for their Bed-Stuy sublet and bodega lunches. By night, they weave between Brooklyn, the Upper East Side, and the Hamptons among a rotating cast of celebrities, artists, Internet entrepreneurs, stuffy intellectuals, and bad-mannered grifters. Resources run ever tighter and the strain tests their friendship as they try to convert social capital into something more lasting than precarious gigs as au pairs, nightclub hostesses, paid audience members, and aspiring foot fetish models.
Through it all, Isa’s bold, beguiling voice captures the precise thrill of cultivating a life of glamour and intrigue as she juggles paying her dues with skipping out on the bill. Happy Hour is a novel about getting by and having fun in a system that wants you to do neither.
About the Author
Marlowe Granados is a writer and filmmaker. After spending time in London and New York, she now resides in Toronto.
"Marlowe Granados's Happy Hour is as refreshing as a gin fizz. It is a wild careening joyride through a hot sultry summer in New York in 2013, and it evokes that time with such sparkling specificity that you can feel the heat coming off the pavement. If you are looking for romance, ambition, glamour, and a story about what it means to be young and striving in the city, this is your song of the summer."
—Rachel Syme, New Yorker staff writer
"A dreamy account of one heady summer, Marlowe Granados's début is a dispatch from another land; not only New York City, but youth itself. Happy Hour is aptly titled - it's an intoxicating book, at once heartbreaking and joyful."
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind, Rich and Pretty, and That Kind of Mother
"Happy Hour is filled with charm, memorable insight, and witty aperçus, adding up to the realization that life, while unfair, is antic enough to be worth all the trouble."
—A. S. Hamrah, author of The Earth Dies Streaming
"[Happy Hour is] about being young, grabbing life by the tail and enjoying it to the full...Its tone reminds me of early Edna O'Brien, with its worldly outlook, its wit - and its obvious smarts."
—Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star
"Happy Hour feels like a secret casually revealed in a hotel lobby bathroom as you fix your lipstick and a breathless whisper at six in the morning when it's too hot to sleep. Marlowe Granados writes sparkling prose with tenderness and unexpected depth. Happy Hour is a spellbinding début."
—Amy Jones, author of We're All in This Together and Every Little Piece of Me
"Happy Hour is less a conventional coming-of-age story and more a flâneuse adventure...[it's] unique for portraying young women having fun without looming threats of moral or mortal punishment."
—Esmé Hogeveen, GARAGE
"A wonderful, hilarious, pleasurably exhausting reminder of what it is to be young in a big city...a swig of a very cold martini on a balmy evening."
"Amusingly mischievous...a new age of innocence."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Marlowe Granados writes with a delicious joy and confidence. She conveys frivolity without being frivolous, and describes the adventures and degradations of the lives of her characters with an intelligent distance and effervescence that is such a pleasure to read."
"Exquisitely captures so much of young, twenty-something life ... Granados has orchestrated a character and story so delicious that it makes me yearn just one night like theirs. It is expertly and intentionally pretentious in a way that only some of the best writers can succeed in pulling off."
—Soraya Bouazzaoui, Aurelia Magazine
"A champagne-soaked, strappy-heeled guide to a summer of indulgence ... Isa narrates with the wry, whip-smart bemusement of an F. Scott Fitzgerald character who woke up in 2013 with a martini and a vintage Gucci dress."
"Like the many cocktails sipped by our discerning narrator: effervescent, tart, and intoxicating."
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] sharp and beguiling debut ... Granados's nuanced characterization, biting observational humor and intoxicating prose make Happy Hour a delicacy to be savored, as well as a poised takedown of New York's cultural elite."
—Devon Ashby, Shelf Awareness
"Granados manages to capture an airy and effortless tone and her prose sparkes with dry wit on every page."
—Emma Davey, BUST
"Happy Hour is a picaresque for the glamorous and broke."
—Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, Vulture
"A tale of the sticky, sweet heat of summer in New York City and girls living their best, champagne-soaked lives ... joyously sultry, a celebration of decadent abandon in the face of distrustful men, precarious finances and unknown career paths"
—Caitlin Quinlan, AnOther
"The strength of Happy Hour is Granados' wit and the assuredness with which she delivers on-the-nose observations and youthful wisdom."
—Kate Mabus, USA Today
"This is Breakfast At Tiffany's meets Girls and it's going to be your new book obsession."
—Sarra Manning, Red
"Brief and flighty ... Granados paints New York with all of the silky glamour it deserves"
—Han Clark, Lunate
"Confident, charismatic and alive to the pleasure of observation, the voice Granados conjures in Happy Hour is a testament to the power of charm on the page."
—Molly Fischer, New York Times
"A glitzy coming-of-age saga about two friends navigating the singular experience of getting by in New York City."
—Juliana Ukiomogbe, Interview Magazine
"Reading Happy Hour feels like eating a shimmering, intoxicating slice of the best summer of your life, a sort of Proustian cookie that transports you back not to your childhood but to the time when you looked best in cut-off shorts and felt like your heart was made of rubber."
—Alexandra Kleeman, Electric Literature
"Fun, decadent ... a picaresque exploration of female friendship staged across a series of tableaus set in New York City during one particularly sweltering summer in the early 2010s."
—Sophie Kemp, The Nation
"Reading this book is like watching a video from the party last night and wishing you'd been there."
—Mariah Kreutter, Soft Punk
"Marlowe Granados' debut novel is glamorous, insightful, and most importantly, anti-work."
—Sophia June, NYLON
"A fresh take on the party girl genre."
—Samantha Leach, Bustle
"[Happy Hour] combines fun and glamour with Granados's sharp sense of how moneyed society really works."
—Alex Quicho, Bookforum
"Granados does a masterful job at touching on race and class without hitting the reader over the head with overused tropes or stale language."
—Ama Kwarteng, Coveteur
"Happy Hour is richly written, vividly rendering a stinking city, its tangled social circles and the airy pretence of an exclusive party crowd ... it is refreshing to read a book about fun and frivolity whose climax does not rely on the moralisation of peril."
—Sarah Carson, inews
"If your days of living for perpetual glamour are now behind you (or yet to come), this magnificent debut is an excellent reminder of what it costs and how it's done."
—Ed Needham, Strong Words
"Effervescent ... Isa's combination of naïveté, intelligence, and panache beguiles."
"Happy Hour is the perfect tonic ... a sharp, original and intelligent take on existence’s larger themes: work, death, the meaning of life and the very structures which control it."
—Monica MacSwan, Bad Form
"Granados's party-girl protagonist Isa Epley talks like [Eve] Babitz and navigates the New York scene like one of Edith Wharton's heroines ... With finger-licking delight, she reveals the hollowness at the center of the matryoshka doll that is the city’s social networking apparatus."
—Jamie Hood, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Happy Hour refuses to separate the frivolous and the adventurous ... as refreshing as the first sip of a martini on a searing summer’s night."
—Eloise Hendy, Elephant
"Effervescent ... a confection of cocktails, rooftop flirtations, bright dresses, and the joys and melancholy of Female Friendship."
—Keziah Weir, Vanity Fair ("8 Books We Couldn’t Put Down This Month")
"Profound ... At their core, books are about the beautiful, but here we have a book where our narrator is not only an observer of beauty but in possession of that beauty too."
—Ellen O'Donohue Oddy, Radical Art Review
"A delight to read and to hear. Every word evokes a sensation from our lives that lingers with the turn of the page."
—Amanda Luna Ballerini, Flash Art
"Daring and roguish"
—Alex Quicho, White Review
"Funny, profound and beautiful. Granados is brilliant on the intersections of social class, race, work, money, beauty and power."
—Jessica Andrews, Sheerluxe
"A sweet cocktail, a delight in diary format"
—Ella Creamer, Guardian
“A breezy, fun book for a breezy, fun summer … Happy Hour will make you want to cultivate a life of glamour and cocktails”
—Sophie Dickinson, Telegraph