An intoxicating, whirlwind friendship; Social Creature is a haunting story of Louise and Lavinia, two women playing a dangerous game.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Published: 14th June, 2018
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Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being cat-called by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment…
Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best parties, bars, the opera, shares her clothes, her coke, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can’t last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia’s life?
The world of Lavinia Williams is one many of us covet: endless parties, unlimited money, glamour. When Louise, a small town girl struggling to make end meet in New York is offered a taste of it, she can’t resist. As she gets sucked in deeper and deeper into this charmed life, the sinister side of all that sparkle becomes glaringly obvious. Does she stay? Does she leave? What is the price of such an alluring lifestyle? That is the question Tara Isabelle Burton attempts to explore, diving deep into the world of obsession and toxic friendships.
Social Creature is certainly not a book you pick up when in need for a light entertainment. The story of Louise (Lulu) and Lavinia feels like watching in slow motion as two trains head towards each other at full speed, brakes off.
Burton’s book was compared to The Talented Mr. Ripley and while there are similar themes, I don’t find this parallel entirely accurate. You see, Tom Ripley is a talented con artist, while Louise is more of an opportunist who doesn’t even seem capable of holding her life together properly, and things seem to just happen to her as she’s trying her best to keep ahead of the events. While she’s certainly not an innocent little bystander, the way she bends over backwards to remain friends with Lavinia in spite of her own better judgement just makes her seem pitiful more often than not. Just how far would you go to get what you want? Do you even know what you want?
We all measure success differently. For some of us, it means money, for other it’s achieving a seemingly unachievable goal they set themselves a long time ago. For me, success can be those days when I manage to put on pants in the morning, get to the office on time and not hate my life all day. You know, what I mean. Think big, but embrace the small things. While Lavinia never wants the parties to end, craves constant attention and endless likes on social media, Louise wants, more than anything to become a famous writer. Eventually, when it’s clear that ambitions only take so far, lies and deception becomes her second nature.
A well written, intriguing story about two self-absorbed women, Social Creature will suck you right into their dazzling world. But be warned: all that glitter is not gold.
P.S. If you like stories similar to The Talented Mr. Ripley, you might want to check out Tangerine.
Haven’t read Mr. Ripley yet? Well, I say, do yourself a favour and do it!