I am not a fashion type, but I was immediately swept into Annie Valentine’s world of fashion by the clever way Carmen Reid opens each chapter of New York Valentine with a rundown of what one of the characters is wearing (and how much it cost). This clever trick captures the tone of the chapter straight away and shows how good the author is at doing her fashion research!
The novel follows Annie Valentine, one-time host of a popular TV fashion show, as she returns to her roots – by leaving her husband and babies behind in London and flying to rescue her best friend’s daughter Elena’s ailing dress business in New York. Annie seems to have everything (except a job) – teenagers, babies, husband, friends who need her, and a massive credit card debt – and then, by being true to herself she manages to turn the loss of her beloved TV show into a new opportunity.
There’s drama back home while Annie’s in New York, as her second husband Ed and her teenage son Owen are investigated for computer crimes by Ed’s workplace (a prestigious private school), and the police. Then there’s Annie’s older daughter Lana who has finished high school and has no idea what to do with herself so has taken to moping around the house. Luckily Lana loves New York as much as Annie, but even there she finds drama with her first New York boyfriend turning out to be a New York drag.
It’s fair to say I fell in love with Annie Valentine’s New York, as I’m sure you will, and with her efforts to keep the Perfect Dress label alive. Annie hunts for fabrics, dress factories, and sympathetic retailers on her quest, all while wearing high heels. Except for a brief stint being Trained by Gawain, the chic-est personal trainer in New York, when Annie is entirely unfashionable, in daggy workout gear just like the rest of us. Happily, her trip to New York revitalises Annie, so she comes back to London with not one but two new TV shows in mind (one which involves Gawain and some plastic pants), and more success than she knows what to do with.
This novel captures the sparkle and fun of being in New York and fashion so well, it almost makes me want to care more about fashion. I might start by reading the rest of the books first though! This is the 5th in the Annie Valentine series and from the looks of it, they are all just as much fun as this was to read.
Available Now: Random House RRP $32.95