Cover Image: Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style

Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style

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Member Reviews

I received an advanced copy of Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style by Paul Rudnick from the publisher Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

What It’s About: Nate Reminger’s life is forever changed when he meets and falls in love with Farrell Covington. Farrell is the son of one of the country’s most powerful and conservative families and Nate is an aspiring writer from a Jewish family in Piscataway. The novel follows this love story for more than 50 years from their time at Yale to New York to all over the world. Together, Nate and Farrell experience the joys and devastation of life from the 1970’s Manhattan gay life to the AIDS epidemic. 

What I Loved: This book has a lot of heart. I found the story of Nate and Farrell to definitely pull on my heartstrings while also remaining hopeful. This book reminds me of the Great Believers to an extent but lighter and not as sad. It is lovely to see a story about a gay couple that lives during the mid-late 20th century and have it not be a very sad book but still maintains elements of real life and real struggle. 

What I Didn’t Like: This might have been because I listened on audio but I found Farrell to be a lot and he could be a bit grading in the quirkiness he has. I also didn’t necessarily love the element of how everything magically happens to them (ie: the Hollywood segment) isn’t my favorite.

Who Should Read It: People who love queer stories with heart.  

Summary: A love story that spans decades.
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Rudnick is in peak form in "Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style"! Despite the heartbreak and realism at the core of its tale, I was laughing out loud more often than not, and felt compelled to send pull quotes to the friends I was most reminded of to convince them to read. this. book. Farrell gives Rudnick a place to explore his own past and mix it with a bit of over-the-top romanticism. Utterly lovely.
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I'm a long time Paul Rudnick fan and am always happy when he has a new book out (if you're a fan...check out his twitter as well)!
Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style opens with two freshman at Yale in the 70's.  Farrell and Nate are both exploring their new lives and sexuality when they first meet.  Nate is from a middle class family in Central New Jersey and Farrell's family are extraordinarily wealthy and conservative business tycoons from the Midwest.  The story continues through the ups and downs of their lives over the next 50 years.
The characters are all bold and out there, with Farrell topping and leading the group.  They're all unique and fully developed.  Nate's mother was one of the quieter characters, but I loved it when she made an appearance.
Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style has a little bit of everything, style wise.  It's rom-com and yet also historical fiction, as well as a little steamy at times.  In particular, the book poignantly captures the time in NYC when AIDS was first breaking out - the fear, the unknown, and lack of information that gripped the gay community, in particular.
Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for the opportunity to read Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style - I loved it!
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I have been a fan of Paul Rudnick's novels since his hysterical debut Social Disease back in 1986. (Among other things, that novel was why I could never take trendy '80s club-kid authors like Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz seriously: Rudnick had done it better, and funnier.) So I was already primed to love Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style, but I was not expecting it to be as funny, sad, romantic, angry, and emotional as it is. That last word is the key: with rare exceptions like his 1993 play Jeffrey, Rudnick's default mode is irony, and a kind of slapstick humor that deliberately stays surface-level. This time, Rudnick mines his own history -- the main character, NAte Reminger, is a thinly-disguised version of Rudnick himself, a gay Jewish man who enters Yale University in the '70s, lives in Manhattan during the AIDS epidemic, and goes on to write several plays and screenplays reminiscent of Rudnick's own I Hate Hamlet, Sister Act, Jeffrey, and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. But it's Nate's ever-changing relationship with his first love, the brilliant, gorgeous, insanely wealthy -- and closeted -- Farrell Covington that drives the story. Raised in a restrictive, conservative family, Farrell is a Topeka Oscar Wilde forced -- literally -- to hide his light under a bushel. Their relationship, all separations and reunions, never goes in the directions you might expect, but their love of each other -- and of the ever-present concept of style, as in making a beautiful splash in an unbeautiful world -- is wonderful to watch unfold. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to redecorate. It's Rudnick's masterpiece.
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I absolutely loved this book. This author never fails to take something a cis person might not grasp and not only make it understandable, but also romantic and sexy. He's one of my favorites!
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Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style by Paul Rudnick is funny, sad, lighthearted, steamy, informative, and heartwarming all at the same time, and I loved getting to know Farrell and Nate. While the story is told completely through Nate's viewpoint, I thought the author did an excellent job of giving a lot of depth to Farrell as well, and both of these men really jumped off the page for me. I was laughing in the very first chapter, so I knew I was going to enjoy this one and I really, really did. I hadn't realized until now that I actually read another book by the author quite a while ago, and this was definitely a far cry from being the same sort of storyline as It's All Your Fault. This is a sweeping tale of love set against the backdrop of many decades starting in the 1970s, and it was pretty dang steamy as well!

The audiobook is narrated by Daniel Henning who just so happens to be the same person that narrates T.J. Klune's novels, and to say he was perfect is an understatement. He brought these characters to life in a way I don't think anyone else could have done, and he made me love them even more than I already did. I highly recommend the audio for this reason, and Henning added even more to the story for me. It has a long title, but let me tell you, it is so fitting to the book, and I think the cover is as well. Rudnick is such a clever writer, and I couldn't help but be in tears at the end of this book. It is a heavy hitter while being funny at the same time, and the only thing I didn't like was some parts felt a bit rushed. Other than that, I adored Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style and its characters, and if you are looking for a terrific LGBTQ fiction read, you will find it here.
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This was quite an education for a pretty middle-of-the-road reader. Whe I-read the credits of author Paul Rudnick and recognized several movies I really enjoyed (especially In and Out) I requested this story from Netgalley immediately. This memoir of a Jewish kid from New Jersey embracing his true self and all that being gay involves starts out with some really raunchy stories, funny to be sure but graphic and unapologetic. I have a feeling Rudnick did that deliberately to flush out the judgmental and the prudish. From there the story becomes a hilarious coming-of-age story centering on his relationship with Golden Boy Farrell Covington, son of great wealth and ultra controlling parents. 
The writing crackles and although there continue to be some X-rated scenes, they alternate with wonderful descriptions of love, great friendship and the  fascinating history of gay life in New York City in particular and the United States in general. There are also some rousing confrontations with the nastiest family since The Brothers Karamazov. I found myself reading whole paragraphs aloud to my husband.
There were a few sections that dragged as Rudnick covered the AIDS epidemic in great detail as well as social projects spearheaded by different characters. Each of these topics was certainly noteworthy but it definitely slowed down the pace
The most fascinating aspect of the book from beginning to end is that it was inspired by the author’s life. He has had a front row seat to a remarkable time in social history and shares his insights freely.
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This novel starts in the 1970s, when college freshman Nate meets the titular Farrell Covington, a fabulously wealthy, handsome, and charismatic fellow student and they fall instantly in love. The book then follows their story (told all from Nate’s perspective) over the ensuing decades together and apart, from Yale to NYC to Hollywood and more; in and out of the closet and through the AIDS crisis of the 80s and beyond.

I had mixed feelings about this one. The pacing was a bit uneven, with the book moving slowly at times and then jumping forward rapidly at other times. The tone varies too, from funny and witty to quite emotionally affecting, though that was more of a plus that it could run the gamut of emotions.

If you know anything about Paul Rudnick’s career, Nate’s character is a barely veiled autobiographical version of him, though Farrell is apparently a fictional creation - which perhaps explains why he’s a bit both unrealistically perfect and yet totally forgiven his flaws.

This book is definitely not going to be for everyone, especially with some of its very explicit scenes. However, it also makes a great Pride Month read with it’s charting of gay history, especially of the 70s and 80s but with some parts in the following decades, including a funny wink at how different it is for today’s LGBTQ+ young people.

3.5 stars
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This book was slow for me to begin with, and then I became attached to the characters and their unique relationship. 

Nate meets Farrell soon after moving away from home and beginning school at Yale. Their relationship becomes an on and off again decades long one that continues through all parts of their lives. Nate becomes a playwright and moves from New York to LA, Farrell gets sick and Nate becomes his caretaker for a time. Their relationship is so different from what is typically portrayed in books, and I appreciated seeing that play out. 

Nate is an endearing character, and it's great to see his growth and success as a person as well as a playwright. Farrell rises above unaccepting parents and lives his life on his own terms. 

I loved all the settings and time periods in this book, and reading about the rise of AIDS in New York was very interesting and depressing. 

Nate and Farrell have a fun assortment of good friends and support, my favorite of which is Sally. I loved her storyline and the stylistics details associated with her -- very vivid descriptions. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an early copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Nate Reminger is a Jewish kid from New Jersey who didn’t think much of his time in high school. It’s not like it was bad. It was more like he was waiting to get away from his hometown before his life could really begin. He worked hard and got into Yale, and that’s where he met Farrell Covington. 

Farrell Covington swept into a room, and every eye turned to him. He was beautiful, wealthy beyond imagination, and charming. And he wanted Nate. And Nate wanted him right back. Almost immediately, Nate and Farrell come together as a couple and part of a larger Yale group of friends, gays, and theater people. And almost immediately, they get hit with homophobia. First, Farrell has a beer bottle thrown at his head. And later, his father comes to break the couple up and drag Farrell back to Kansas, vowing to cut Farrell off completely if he continues his relationship with Nate. 

Nate and Farrell finish college, separately, and Nate moves to New York City after to work as a cater-waiter, write plays, and join a gym. He experiences the free lifestyle that gay men enjoyed in the 1970s in New York, while Farrell gets married to one of their Yale friends and learns about the family business back in Wichita. As the years go by, Nate and Farrell are not allowed to be in touch, but they are still tethered to each other. Everyone who knows them can see that their love for each other cannot be denied. 

As their stories come together and diverge again, they meet closeted gay men in Hollywood and the restrictions of the movie-making industry. They are there as AIDS started killing the men around them, even before it had a name. They survive the fear, the anger, the threats, and the losses along with the successes, the celebrations, and the saints. And through it all, when Nate and Farrell are together and when they are apart, is their love. 

Paul Rudnick is a playwright and screenwriter known for his ability to illustrate the gay experience for those of us who are not. He brings the humor and the style and the beauty of life into sharp relief. But there is no way to do that without also bring some heartbreak and tears. To me, Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style felt like he kind of sweeping saga of a love story that celebrates what makes us human—the vulnerabilities, the fears, the weaknesses, the bad choices, along with the support of friends and family, perseverance, generosity, compassion, and our capacity for healing. 

I wanted to rush through this book, as I love Rudnick and wanted to immerse myself in this story. But I just couldn’t rush this one. There was too much emotion, too much going on in this story to rush to the end. I had to slow down and drink it in, savor it, cry a little, laugh a lot, and feel all of the feelings. 

I wish everyone could read this book, for the important aspects of history as well as for the beautiful love story. However, I know many people won’t because they’re not interested in the love story between two men. And there are some sex scenes that could make readers uncomfortable. So this isn’t for everyone. But for those who are the audience for this book, buckle up and die in. It’s amazing! 

Egalleys for Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style were provided by Atria Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.
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What a breath of fresh air this was! I didn't know what to expect based on the cover, but I'm glad I gave this a shot. The story follow Farrell and Nate throughout their lives and we get to see the many ways they come together and get pulled apart. There is a lot of ground covered and I loved how the author handled the politics of LGBT rights while still offering a thoughtful- and funny!- story. I won't soon forget these characters. I think if you're looking for something somewhat in the vein of The Guncle by Steven Rowley, this would work for you.
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Despite starting the novel several times, I could connect to the characters. Rudnick is a fine, funny writer but this never clicked for me. 

Thank you Netgalley for this novel.
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FARRELL COVINGTON AND THE LIMITS OF STYLE takes readers through the decades and across the globe to tell an unforgettable love story. Nate Reminger is a Jewish boy from suburban New Jersey who dreams of becoming a writer. Farrell Covington is a wealthy Midwesterner from a powerful, conservative family. The two meet as undergrads at Yale in the 1970s, where the book begins, and readers follow Nate and Farrell from there, as they grow together and apart over the years, experiencing family struggles, career triumphs, and everything in between. Can their romance make it through anything, or is it just something fleeting and forbidden, not meant to last forever?

Paul Rudnick's writing style is so engaging—witty and funny, yet touching and heartfelt all at once! Nate and Farrell's story will have readers laughing out loud on one page, and tearing up the next, reflecting the ups and downs of their lives. The side characters were also so vivid and well-done (I especially loved Sally and Jackson!) and the story effortlessly absorbed readers into each setting, from Yale's campus in the 70s to NYC during the AIDS epidemic to Hollywood and beyond. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it! Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC.
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This book is a love story - with humor and tears and I really enjoyed it.  It is a gay rom-com starting in the 1970's at Yale when the two main characters Nate and Farrell "meet-cute" at Yale as undergrads - Nate a Jewish boy from New Jersey and Farrell, a very rich kid from the Midwest.  Some reviewers have compared the opening sections to Love Story and I would say yes but with lots more humor and sex.  Given that this book covers decades in their relationship, inevitably AIDS casts a wide shadow.  The story takes us to NYC and Hollywood among other places and reveals family secrets.  This was a delightful and poignant read and I recommend it!

Thank you to Netgalley and Atria Books for an ARC and I left an honest review voluntarily.
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I’m really torn with this book - parts were great and unapologetically gay. (I’ve never highlighted so many whole paragraphs)  But other parts didn’t quite work for me.  There are some great reviews for it, so maybe it’ll resonate with you more?

First, this is almost a fictionalized semi-autobiographical novel from Paul Rudnick - screenwriter and playwright who’s accomplished some amazing works - 𝘚𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘈𝘤𝘵, 𝘐𝘯 & 𝘖𝘶𝘵, 𝘑𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘺.  So cool things - Nate is clearly a fictionalized version of Rudnick.  So let’s get to the story.

Nate Reminger, aspiring Jewish aspiring writer, meets and falls for Farrell Covington, drop-dead handsome & ridiculously wealthy, while they are in college.  They fall hard, but this is only the start of the story.

This novel takes place over 50 years, and tells the story of Nate and Farrell across the decades together, and the decades apart.  Moving from Yale to NYC, LA, and around the world - while experiencing the societal issues and changes from disco, AIDS, 9/11, career successes, and family issues.

It’s told almost like a retelling by Nate, an autobiography if you will.

It’s an ambitious plot, which also was its downfall for me - there were just parts of the story that were boring IMO.
However, there were many great parts - the writing was on-point, funny, and insightfully gay!  Both Nate and Farrell were great, if not ridiculous characters.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a chance to early review this story in exchange for an honest review.
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don’t be fooled by the cover - sure this is funny and sweet, but HORNY. like smut level sex scenes (which was a pleasant surprise)
we follow Farrell and Nate from the time they meet in college in the ‘70s through the span of a few decades. I had fun with this for the most part but Farrell’s quirkiness can get a bit annoying after awhile and i do feel like the book went on a little too long, but overall a really refreshing piece of queer fiction. it has a romcom-ish tone without being a romcom story.
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This was such an enjoyable read. The writing was over-the-top, exciting, and unapologetically queer. Farrell was one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read with the perfect mixture of extravagance and humility. I love a story told over an extended run period, and this book did that really well. I do wish we got a few chapters from Farrell’s POV so we could get his thoughts on Nate, but overall, this was great.
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I follow Paul Rudnick on Twitter for his sardonic, sometimes acerbic, topical comments (particularly those aimed at Lindsey Graham and accompanied by a photo of Joan Crawford). This new novel is witty, touching, funny…it is a great love story told with, well, style. The characters are drawn with care to detail and the narrative outlandish but plausible.
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An interesting story that spans many years with Farrell Covington.  There is some humor but there are some tears as well. Overall a good read.  
Many thanks to Atria and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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