Title: The Misadventures of Oliver Booth: Life in the Lap of Luxury
Author: David Desmond
Release Date: October 1, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Satire
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the back cover:
Oliver Booth wants nothing more than to join the ranks of Palm Beach’s high society. But with his arrogant personality, garish wardrobe, and incompetent stewardship of an antique shop filled with gaudy reproductions, he doesn’t have a chance. Oliver’s luck takes a turnabout when the society doyenne Margaret Van Buren sends him and his assistant, Bernard, to Paris on a shopping spree to furnish her new estate. What ensues is a series of hilarious, Voltaire-esque misadventures as Oliver bumbles his way through the milieu of the elite. A satirical look at the lengths some people will go to in order to enter the insular circle of the privileged, David’s Desmond’s novel is a witty glimpse into a world few of us know.
The Misadventures of Oliver Booth is a humorous look at a social-climbing man who thinks he deserves to have it all. Oliver Booth is quite repulsive (both physically and mentally) and he preys on the wealthy through his dismal antiques shop. He is definitely a caricature of a man, someone whose faults are grossly exaggerated in order to make the novel humorous. Of course, it is a successful technique, and the reader is left chuckling as Oliver makes one blunder after another. If he wasn’t so odious, I might have felt sorry for him.
Despite the title, the story is more about Bernard, a waiter with an eye for antiques who ends up working in Oliver’s shop. I really enjoyed reading about Bernard. I think if the novel had been solely about Oliver, the entire premise would have gotten old quickly. But Bernard adds a semblance of normalcy to the novel and is someone the reader can relate to. He keeps The Misadventures of Oliver Booth in balance between fiction and satire.
Desmond also should be commended for his writing style. His words are quick and sharp. His sense of humor is witty, without being too obvious. The novel is also a quick, light read. It ends before the mix of sarcasm and satire can get too grating; satires are only really funny if they know when to quit. This one definitely does, and is the better for it. It’s a book you’ll want to read in one sitting.
I would recommend The Misadventures of Oliver Booth to anyone who likes a good laugh. Though the novel is never absolutely hilarious, its wit and charm will keep readers enchanted. I’d definitely be interested in any subsequent books that Desmond releases.