With the verve and bite of Ottessa Moshfegh and the barbed charm of Nancy Mitford, Marlowe Granados’s stunning debut brilliantly captures a summer of striving in New York City.
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.
Available on NetGalley
This book feels familiar. Not because I've ever lived in New York (I haven't), but because I've drifted around wondering what the hell I'm going to do with my life and how I'm supposed to pay the bills. It was like looking at myself a few years ago, moving from country to country and starting beautiful, intense friendships with people even though I knew I'd soon be leaving. It captures a moment in time so perfectly, one which I don't think I'll ever get to live again as I am buried under increasing responsibilities. And yet I was given the gift of being able to go back to those days through this novel. There's no specific plot to this novel, it is more the story of a summer, and I know that will drive some people crazy, but I enjoyed it, it's actually the reason why I loved it so much. The writing is really engaging and I found I could relate to a lot of it. I wanted to know what Isa and Gala would do next and who they would meet. It also captured the strain of living with friends really well, and how you start off having a carefree summer, but as responsibilities build you can go from being friends to almost hating one another. This is a book about being young, about drifting and talking and living. It is a story of summers where you drink too much and say things you shouldn't and go home with far too many people. And maybe not everyone will like that or relate to it, but I did. I was captivated by the writing. Overall this was such a satisfying book to read and I'll definitely be recommending it. All of the talk about the different food available in New York made me so hungry. Especially because I'm back in England and I'm starved for any Latin American food, which Isa can get easily there. The only problem I had with this book was the arc I got was difficult to read because letters were missing here and there. This could be my device, so I'm not lowering the rating for that.
“Though we give the appearance of it, I wonder when we were last truly carefree. Were we ever?” Intoxicating and real— this is a delicious slice of NYC summer life that follows two young, beautiful, charming but broke women. Although I could see some reviews saying this novel highly romanticizes living in NYC while broke, I can’t agree (but then again I already romanticize NYC life on my own). Isa and Gala meander through the city and meet many people, some intriguing and most highly frustrating or annoying. Although this novel was relatively plotless, I was enamored with the characters and the city, and can see myself recommending this book to many people (all with different reading preferences). I loved being inside Isa’s head, living alongside Gala, and experiencing what the city has to offer two broke but charismatic young women. I also enjoyed that these characters weren’t interested in falling in love or relying on men; they simply just wanted to enjoy their summer in the city and welcome whatever and whoever came their way. I will definitely be buying a physical copy of this book and can’t recommend this book enough.
Marlowe Granados' HAPPY HOUR is a hard book to write about. On the one hand, I blitzed through this book in a couple of sittings feeling as easy and breezy as the main characters, Isa and Gala. There is something so carefree that is fun to read, knowing that wherever Isa and Gala end up, it will all be ok, However, the style of writing is so simple and almost too easy. The diary form allows a colloquial, confessional style but there were few times I was actually impressed with how it was written. I longed for a more immersive world like that of SOCIAL CREATURE or for a character to change her perception or grow even a little. Isa and Gala are young and having a fun summer and...what? Thanks to Marlowe Granados, Veso Books and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Unfortunately, this novel didn't land for me. There's a lot of good here. The writing is crisp and snappy. The sense of place is strong - i felt like I was in NYC in the summer. The characters seem fresh. I just need more plot, more growth, more depth. I've seen the book described as refreshing as a gin fizz. I don't disagree, but I need a steak with my cocktail.
It’s an interesting book for sure. Not one I may pick up for myself. But it explores interesting thoughts and ideas. Kind of hard to get through personally.
This book was enjoyable despite my not really caring for the writing style. As someone who moved to NYC at 25, in the summer of 2011, very broke, I found it extremely relatable, observant and realistic. I found myself chuckling at so many of the observations about the New York social scene, and that made it fun. It felt like an inside joke between the author, the narrator and I. But in terms of being a great piece of literature or profound in any way, not so much. If youre looking for a light read and specifically if you are or ever have been a 20-something New Yorker, I think you’ll get a kick out of this quick read.
Very fun and interesting read. Personally for me, I didn't get connected to the story but I can see other readers really enjoying this!
I really liked this book, and found myself reading it with great interest. While there were many characters introduced, I felt like I got a pretty good sense of who they were and their role in Gala and Isa's lives. I loved the carefree-ness of the story and how adventurous it was. I envied the people who crossed paths with them and envied their ability to enjoy the present, meet and bond with new people, and their sense of priorities. This book challenged the narrative that young twenty-somethings need to be in post-secondary creating a career and life path, and instead suggests that it is okay to go day by day - things will still be okay. I also loved the author's style, there were many lines and sections that I found myself underlining and rereading because they were so beautiful, which I rarely do when I read fiction. The only aspect that troubled me was that at times it felt a bit unrealistic - the way the girls continued to run into people they had met across the world, or that they would manage to always get the attention or support of wealthier/well connected people. These were very fun aspects of the story that kept it exciting, but sometimes I thought "there's just no way!". Being from outside of the country and without income is very challenging and while those challenges were acknowledged throughout the story, I have to presume it won't always work out so smoothly. Thank you for the chance to read this wonderful book!
thanks to netgalley for the arc. this was an enjoyable read! the writing was pretty okay and the story as well. it just had something missing. maybe because it’s been a while since i read a contemporary, but i did enjoy it enough for what it was.
I was interested instantly but as the story continued I got bored has potential though. Great writing style.
An absolutely sublime read, following the two twenty something charming grifters Isa and Gala through the oppressive heat and immense opportunities of NYC in summer. Although there’s no typical plot, the wry and compelling writing makes you feel as though you are there, feeling their freedom and the untold possibilities for a bright young thing in a big city. For an older reader there’s something so deliciously carefree reading about young women with all the opportunities and advantages of a big city at thirty feet. Whilst it without a doubt romanticizes the abject grimness of being broke in NYC, you become carried away with the story, all the time rooting for the next party or contact or job that come their way. The characters were well developed, all flawed but each had enough vulnerability or charm to give them depth and complexity. I’ll be buying this for my girlfriends to enjoy.
Happy Hour was a fun enjoyable read about being young in the city! It brought me back to my college days, and this will be a great summer read.
Firstly, I want to thank Netgallery for this arc. Unfortunately this book didn’t do it for me. I personally thought the writing style was amazing and so were the descriptions. I truly felt that I was right there in New York with Isa and Gala but, I couldn’t relate to the characters and I felt as if there was not a good enough plot to continue reading. I simply couldn’t connect to the story or characters. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I definitely think there could be other readers out there who would have loved this novel.
Oh boy... reading this made me feel like I was 23 again! Two young women in New York City, it's the perfect backdrop for this story. These two women work through personal and financial trouble while learning so much in the process. Great read!
This was a light and lively read. The book is about two young and beautiful women trying to scrape by in New York City for a summer. They bounce around from party to party with acquaintance after acquaintance looking for a good time and any opportunity to put some cash in their pockets. Though it was a fun and easy read, I personally found it lacked a cohesive plot that linked the individual events together in a meaningful way.
Isa is in New York. Why? She just is. Happy Hour takes place from May to September, telling of the summer best friends Isa and Gala move to New York City just because. They're nearly broke and always struggling to find ways to make money (their immigrant status severely limits their options), but with enough beauty, charm, and social connections they manage to stay afloat in New York's social scene. There isn't much of a plot. The novel is written in first-person, diary-style from the point of view of Isa as she describes interesting moments from the summer and the coming-and-going various people. The book was not mind blowing but still charming and highly enjoyable. It is a quick read and Isa is a fairly likable character. You'll float through this novel as care-freely as Isa and Gala in their New York Summer.
As I write this, we are going on a year spent at home due to COVID-19 so the idea of spending months in a new city and mostly just going out and having fun sounds rather enjoyable. This ride through New York City nightlife was a nice escape that transports you to a different, yet not so along, time in the world and stage in life. While mostly just pure fun, there are also some additional themes and layers here that can make you ponder, as well as times where it seems the fun may run out. Overall, it's a solid debut that is a particular nice respite in our current times.
Thanks to Netgalley and Verso Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book follows two young women, Isa and Gala, as they spend a summer living and working in NYC, trying to have a fun adventurous summer. They work, party, fight, and make new friends along the way. Overall, this was really just a fun book and feels like a modern representation of the roaring 20s. The author managed to capture the voice of a 20 something experiencing freedom for the first time excellently, and you really feel like you get to know Isa and Gala as they romp their way through the summer on a variety of dates, parties, and sweltering days at work. Really just a quick and fun read, with some nice, poignant moments interspersed throughout.
What a wonderful book! A coming of age story that brings to mi d Sex in the City Mets Two Broke Girls. A colorful cast of characters led by lovely Isa and Gala, drive a tale of a couple friends living on the edge one summer in New York City. The city itself becomes a supporting character! A joy to read!
Happy Hour is a fresh, exciting, and breezy novel. I read it mostly during snowy commutes on the subway while teaching in New York during a pandemic. And it gave me the best escapism I could have asked for. The book focuses on the adventures of Isa and Gala. Two twenty-one year olds in New York for a summer pretty much doing whatever comes their way. Reading this after a year of mostly staying at home reminded me what it felt like to actually be out and around other people. The book is written through Isa’s diary entries, but this book is not written in the way most diary books are written. The writing is engaging, the dialogue is intriguing. There were several parts I reread several times, because Granados’ writing style was almost deceptively simple but she conveyed ideas that I would have a hard time putting into words. The book is at times somewhat empty and pretentious, which might not be for all readers. I think that in the context I was reading the book in, I really enjoyed these aspects of the book. Sometimes books will blend together after you finish them, but Granados’ unique matter-of-fact tone and the feelings she perfectly captured still stand out to me even a week after finishing. Thank you Netgalley, Verso Books, and Marlowe Granados for this gem of a book.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to rate this book a bit higher, but unfortunately I feel like I just didn’t quite ‘get’ it. I just found the narrative tone of Isa a bit too cool and aloof to properly feel like I understood her as a character. I did like her, and I thought there were some really interesting moments dealing with her mixed heritage and grief about loss of her mother, but overall I struggled to really know what she was thinking most of the time, even though I was reading from her perspective. I did like Granados’ writing, I thought the descriptions were lovely and illustrated a world of glamorous partying well, however there was no real plot. I thought that the book was going to go somewhere in the second half, and then it just kind of didn’t? I guess this is Granados capturing the transient nature of the girls’ lives, but it just left me feeling a bit like something was lacking. I found the central characters of Isa and Gala quite hard to relate to in the party-girl nature of their lives. They are clearly both attractive, thin and enigmatic enough for people they have just met to become entranced by them, even when Gala was often quite rude to these people. Whilst it was fascinating to be swept up in their lifestyle, and I was glad this was contrasted with elements of struggle so I wasn’t just reading about rich people living it up, overall I came away feeling they were both quite pretentious.
Very interesting before Instagram book about two friends that move to New York City from London. They move into a brownstone right in the midst of their landlord having a house party. People keep barging into their room thinking it is the bathroom with no idea that someone actually lives there. For me this is a fun rom-com beach read.
I actually really liked this book - definitely way more than I initially thought I would. I struggled to get past the first 10%, and as a result I put off reading it for a couple of days; I thought I was going to DNF it. But, once I picked it up again, and realized that the characters were perhaps not even meant to be likeable in the first place, I actually read it fairly easily. I think that this is one of the key aspects of the book, however: I'm still not entirely convinced we are supposed to like the characters. Isa, our narrator, is fascinating, and being inside her head and seeing the world, New York, and early 20s through her eyes was a mesmerizing experience. Of course, precisely because she is so young and navigating so much, she is not an entirely reliable narrator, but more of a subjective one. I don't think that we, as readers, are meant to take everything she says or the way she interprets people and events at face value. Once I realized - or decided - this, it became far easier for me to enjoy the book and let it take me to New York. As you may know, I've had a strange fascination with New York ever since I was in my early teens (yes, I was obsessed with Gossip Girl, how did you know?!), so a book set in New York will always be slightly more enjoyable for me than if it were set anywhere else. I think this one in particular made really good use of the city's landscape, and its people, the way urban landscape plays into and shapes one's experiences in the city. In that way, it kind of reminded me of Friends & Dark Shapes , which I absolutely adored, so that was another element of the book I really enjoyed. My main complaints about the book are that, a) it felt way longer than 280 pages, and b) the secondary cast of characters was a bit too big for my taste; eventually many characters ended up blurring into one, and I would often forget if we've seen them before, and what exactly did they do up until that point. Apart from that, it was a pretty enjoyable book and a very interesting study of a fascinating girl's even more fascinating inner world. ** An ARC was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **
Happy Hour by by Marlowe Granados, published by Verso Books (US) is a book that is hard to review. I kind of liked the storyline. I definitelly liked the writing, but I couldn't connect with the characters. All in all an ok read, There were some formatting issues that made it hard to get into the story, I assume these will be fixed til release day.
This is not just a book, it's the story of a whole summer. I have felt really related to it and had a great fun reading it.
This book is... difficult to describe. Similar in style to Catcher in the Rye, it’s written in stream-of-consciousness style diary entries from our main character Isa. Her diary chronicles her summer in New York with her best friend Gala. They are the picture of youth, using rich men to keep up their partying habit, and living without knowing where their next meal is going to come from. In many ways, this book did work for me, there were lines that were really insightful, and some sections were super well written. However, at other points, I felt this book really dragged. I wanted more plot, or at least more character development- by the end of the book I didn’t feel like much of anything had really happened. Though there were glimmers of really fantastic writing, I found myself getting bored and needed to take breaks because not enough was happening. In fact, I don’t think the writing is the issue, Granados can write, I just didn’t feel any real connection to any of the characters. In fact, at times, Isa felt very ‘mean girl’ to me, and I didn’t really want her to succeed. Given that this book is essentially Isa’s diary, I wanted to feel like I knew her. It’s implied that she can be rather aloof and uninvested in the lives of those around her, but you’d think she’d let her walls down a bit in her own diary. Regrettably, she didn’t. I don’t by any means think this book was bad, especially for a debut, I just think maybe it wasn’t the book for me.
Happy Hour reminds me of what it's like to be able to socialize and see people in a care-free way. Very pretty writing and perceptive descriptions of a summer in New York for two young women with the ambition to be entertained. Enjoyable!
Fast-paced, messy, young: these are some of the words that describe Isa and Gala, two friends who have come to New York to live. And when I say live, I mean LIVE. These two women are complex, nuanced, and growing into themselves, as demonstrated by their experiences from the beginning to the end of the book. We watch them literally living by the skin of their teeth, broke and searching for fun, meaning, and quick love in an unforgiving city. Isa is our narrator, a writer and observer, someone who is confident and alluring. I loved her perspective, the unapologetic way she carried herself, and the way she dissected the people she met. I loved how Isa and Gala handled their friendship: they loved each other deeply, but at times disliked one another and became deeply annoyed with the sheer amount of time they had to spend together, or the difficult situations they found themselves in. This is as much a story about self discovery as it is watching your friends grow. Gala and Isa live this summer fast, together and separate. If you have ever had a youthful summer where you’re reckless, perhaps party too much, or meet the wrong kinds of people, this is a story you will enjoy. Thank you toNetGalley and Flying Books for the ARC.
This is a quirky upbeat story of two best friends exploring the world in their early 20s. I enjoyed the relationship and witty banter between Isa and Gala and their happy go lucky, carefree attitudes towards life in NYC.
This book had a lot of potentials. However, it lacked storyline depth and also character depth. I couldn't see myself connecting with any of the characters. It was hard to get through. The writing was amazing, but the plot didn't do it for me.
Happy Hour by Marlowe Granad0s is about two women, best friends but who go through life as sisters. They move to New York on a whim with no plan whatsoever and are taking every day by the ear. The title reflects the book, we see these women, their personalities, how they look at life and what drives their characters with their interactions with others only through the Happy Hour an always with a drink in hand. These are 21-year-olds who are just trying to figure out life, and how to be an adult all the while being nudged to be self-aware about what they're running from. The story is told through our narrator Isa's diary, so if that style isn't for you then it would not be a good idea to pick this up. BUT if you're looking for fun, just find yourself ever relating to people who just want to figure out how to get their next meal this book is for you. Although, I must say there isn't a plot to this book. It just details the summer of two women who have moved to New York, that's it. I suppose it is meant to be that simple. Marlowe is a really good writer for talking about the way women have been belittled especially women of colour since the protagonist is one. Definitely would recommend this as an airy read that you get through in a couple of days. Thank you Verso Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, this book just didn't really land for me. I was waiting for there to be a plot to the story, but there wasn't. It was just the adventures of Isa and Gala. I think for some people this is a really enjoyable style, to read a story in diary format, but it was confusing for me as I could not get into it or feel connected. The writing was good, I just didn't enjoy the story.
I could read Granados (via her protagonist, Isa) characterize human beings for an hour straight. There is something diabolically enjoyable about the ability to capture and then fillet an archetype in just a few lines. It reminds me of Hemingway, honestly, in the Parisian novels where artistic twenty-somethings take turn fashioning their own insecurities into a lashing for those around them. The voice is authentic, barbed, a delicate balance between striking observations about the world (and its expectations for her) and the naïveté you must possess to think you can make it in NYC with only a few dollars to your name. It is entertaining to follow these two twenty-one-year-old women as they hustle their way to socialite status, flitting in and out of the NYC party scene. As poor immigrants without proper documentation, the hustling is a form of survival for them, partying their way to a free meal and cab fare. They can sense the aching want of the men in these circles and deftly manipulate and charm them, although it never seems cruel. The men, most often, are outclassed in their own games. And it better be damn entertaining, because it is 90% of the book. If I was lucky enough to find myself in their entourage for the weekend, I would be waving them off by 2am. "No, you go ahead, I'm going to crash for the night. I need some water." The book runs it course in 100 pages, and because we are not invested in the emotional arc of these girls (because there is no arc, only the present), the second half is exhausting. I found myself skimming, searching for any scene that didn't involve aperitifs or a boring artist trying to justify his solipsistic ramblings. Near the end, we get into the emotional detritus left by Isa's mother dying and the fallout of fighting with her best friend. Even then, it seems as if the novel, much like Isa, wants to return to the party, afraid that a lack of attention is a small death itself. Listen to full reviews at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/
Engrossing characters and I totally imagined them like the Gossip girls characters after they leave school. Around half way through the book, I got tired of the diary style and the characters' "I don't care" attitude. It feels like a glamourous world but I'm not sure it's one I would want to be part of.
Happy Hour is an intimate peak at Isa's diary as she and her best friend, Gala, immigrate to New York and join the socially elite artists, writers, comedians, and rich girls while constantly scrambling over odd jobs for rent money. Granados writes as a straightforward, direct collection of diary entries that string together to cover Isa and Gala's summer. A string of quotable observations and conversations, Happy Hour is filled with Isa's commentary on the people around her as she jumps from elite parties to bad dates with stuck-up New York boys. While some dialogue is interesting and fast-paced, about a third of the way through I felt myself losing interest. I don't feel like much happened including the small dramas near the ending, and by then I was struggling to find motivation to finish. This is kind of like reading a very long tumblr post from an art girl in 2014, which isn't a bad thing but also doesn't feel fully genuine to me but I can definitely see why readers would connect with and love this book. https://www.aimawaymessage.online/
Through a series of diary entries, we follow Isa and Gala on their various adventures one summer in New York. Isa’s documents her experiences meeting various socialites and friends from her prior travels. At the same time, we learn of her desperate attempts to earn money to pay rent with her partner in crime, Gala. One thing that instantly caught my eye was the illustrator’s beautiful cover art. The impressionist style of the cover hints at the story within. For example, the peaches are suggestive of her encounters with male acquaintances and the hand holding the drink with the pinkie finger raised is reflective of Isa’s aloof personality and obsession with her social status. I found Isa, the main character, easy to sympathise with considering her personal situation but altogether, quite unlikeable. Isa is intelligent and resourceful, however at the same time she is very guarded, shallow, and sometimes cruel. Isa holds her ability to provide ‘charming company’ in high regard and basks in the illusion of living a glamourous life. The reality is that the girls cannot even afford to eat vegetables. I enjoyed observing Isa’s and Gala’s turbulent relationship throughout the novel and was curious to see how the tension in their friendship would unfold. However, my favourite part of the book was towards the end when the girls were apart. We see Isa’s vulnerable side as she deals with loneliness and grief. One thing that was slightly lacking was that whilst the story touches on themes such as privilege, race and grief, Granados never really explores these very deeply. Granados’ writing style is simple to follow but includes some sophisticated terms which channels Isa’s witty voice quite well. Overall, if you are looking for an easy-going, droll, glamourous but down to earth novel, this is it! As an introvert who has never visited New York, I found the girls’ social engagements fascinating. Although I do not think I would re-read this, I can understand why some people would. Thank you NetGalley, Verso Books (US) and Marlowe Granados for the early copy of Happy Hour.
This book has such an interesting concept. I really liked the characters. But I couldn't continue with it. I found it a bit boring and couldn't see where the book was heading. I know many people liked it, and I really liked the character development. They are very relatable, but I couldn't finish reading the book. Maybe this book isn't for me!
This book was great! I would definitely recommend it to a friend. While I have not heard much about it publicized, I know others would enjoy it. Thank you for the ARC I really appreciate it!
Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados follows best friends Isa and Gala on an epic summer adventure in New York City. They're always up to something and the book is filled their adventures and exploits. While the book only spans a few months, both central characters see a lifetime of experiences in the Big Apple and experience meaningful growth. Perfect for fans of the tv show Girls.
Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados was a book I was really looking forward to reading. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to hold my attention. I will pick this up against a later time hoping I will enjoy it more.
Fresh, infectious, and a joy to read. I enjoyed the diary-style of writing and the characters of Isla and Gala were real and relatable and hilarious at times. I would definitely recommend this to my book club as a great read.
What a joyous read! Told through diary entries over the course of one summer, the novel tells the story of Isa and Gala, two best friends visiting New York from London. We see them hop from one social situation to the next, meeting caricature after caricature, all the while hustling and trying to make ends meet. It's a sharp novel, which renders the social landscape of the contemporary art world, and lit world, and media more broadly, in addition to the protagonists' specific milieu, exceedingly well. Though Granados certainly pokes fun at all types of people, there's also something terrifying realistic to their portrayals--this isn't satire, despite its humorous edge. Her prose, too, is both effervescent and laugh-out-loud funny. And I both find the novel to be incredibly contemporary (I thought a lot of Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times) and also reminiscent of something straight out of the 1930s, something by Jean Rhys. But above all, Granados has written a beautiful portrait of friendship and intimacy, I think this is where she truly shines. What a feat.
Marlowe Granados' Happy Hour was a fresh and fun read. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Granados' writing was exciting and flowed nicely — keeping me wanting more and more as I continued reading about Isa and Gala. The novel focuses on Isa and Gala's summer in New York. Their adventures are described in such a spectacular way that I felt like I was experiencing them, too. The writing and adventures all felt familiar, but not because I'd ever even been to New York, but because it took me back to my own time in college in my late teens and early 20s. It reminded me so much of the fun I had with my own best friend. Isa's character was lovely to continue learning about throughout the novel, though I could've done without Gala. Her character was, quite honestly, a little annoying and empty. But maybe the characters aren't exactly supposed to be completely likable? It still works for this book either way. While overall I enjoyed this book, there are certainly things that could've added to it in a positive way. There wasn't an actual plot to the story, but I guess that's what you get with a diary-style book. I would've also enjoyed more of a backstory to each of the characters. We got peeks into their lives prior to Isa and Gala's time in New York, but nothing substantial. I was itching for more on that front. Thanks to NetGalley and Verso Books for this ARC.
As a once young woman coming of age in New York City, I enjoyed revisiting those "worry-free" years everyone seems to romanticize. It seems as though being carefree actually comes with many levels of worry, often made worse when they end up being self-inflicted. Unfortunately I found most of this novel as hollow as the characters' themselves. I wanted to like it more, but maybe that's just my nostalgia talking. I understand the stylistic perspective was to breeze in and out of story lines (in this case from one hustle and drunken bender to the next) but I would have liked it more if there was more of a background story into the characters themselves. Bonus points for some very funny one liners peppered all over the place. I lol'd several times.
I am not sure what I expected of this book; whatever it was, it was unexpected. The characters had me wondering what will they end up doing or being when the book ends. I don't want to give the book away, but I have a pretty good feeling you will be wondering the same thing when you read this book.
I'd give Happy Hour a 3.5. I didn't find it irritating that there wasn't a plot as such, and I'm normally very much a plot person, but for me the sense of time, place and character really carried it.
Set during a sweltering summer in New York City, Happy Hour follows best friends Isa and Gala as they navigate the Big City, their relationships, and what it means to be a 20-something year old, doing odd jobs to pay the rent and somehow still not having enough money to buy a proper meal. From being foot models for a day to going on dates before making a run for it as the check comes, the two friends find ingenious (and sometimes borderline criminal) ways of making money (or at least not spending as much). Written in the style of a diary, we experience their lives through the lens of the witty and observant Isa whose characterizations of the people she meets are one of the most entertaining aspects of the book. It makes you wonder how, were you ever to meet her, she would describe you. The story is fresh and breezy for the most part which is a welcome escape in a time where life has almost come to a standstill and going out every night seems like a memory from a previous lifetime. That being said, Happy Hour does not shy away from tackling some more serious issues, like growing up, losing your parents, or falling for the wrong guys, just to name a few. One sentence I found particularly striking is when Isa observes: “When we were younger, everything for the first time always felt the best, or at least the Most, and sometimes getting older feels like striking the same chord and it sounding different.” I don’t have a lot of quarrels with this book, the only things I would like to mention is that it took me a while to really get settled in to the book but after the first 10% or so, I felt really immersed and wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next and who they would meet. Another thing is that this book has quite the ensemble cast and a lot of minor characters which I difficult to follow but fortunately, Granados does a fine job in reminding the reader who this person was and how they relate to our two main characters. All in all, a really fun reading experience, especially if you’re longing to travel and to HAVE THINGS HAPPEN again.
First, I love the cover and the sentiment behind this novel. It's fresh, fun, and sharp like eating tangy fruit, full of adventures our main character Isa and her best friend Gala embark on in New York City. These range from tapas and drinks to arrogant artists and socialites. I usually hesitate at stream of consciousness texts (except Catcher in the Rye) but this one worked well, even without a standard steadfast plot. It reminds me a lot of a spontaneous meal you don't expect to love because it was thrown together with the ingredients at the last minute, but yet...you do!
A light yet enjoyable read for anyone who wants to detach for a bit and set foot into another world unlike their own. Marlowe Granados sets a scene you feel you know intimately.
I am not sure what I expected of this novel going into it; "Happy Hour" is definitely well-written, the prose was delicate, descriptive, flowing and absolutely to my liking. Although it fell a bit short characterwise, Granado's "Happy Hour" is full of engaging observations and sharp commentary on life and people.
Granados is a writer to watch. Happy Hour is a beautiful snapshot of a summer in New York City - full of vacuous, brilliant, bizarre, beautiful, kind, and cruel New Yorkers and wealthy nomads who drift in and out of the City. A must-read for fans of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Cat Marnell's How to Murder Your Life.
First of all I want to say I absolutely love the cover and that was what caught my eye. Happy hour was a lighthearted, quick and enjoyable read. The characters were lovely
Bravo! A star is born!! There is something incredibly vulnerable about writing a book and putting it out into the world to be judged. It is like putting oneself out into the world to be judged. This is all the more true when the "fiction" book is a barely veiled telling of the author's own life. Is this what they mean by "autofiction"? Whatever it is called, I find it incredibly brave. And, what's more, a privilege to have been allowed to read. Isa/Marlowe is a completely different person than I am. She sees and interacts with the world in entirely different ways than me. She has a self assurance and ability to trust her own judgements that I did not have at her age. "I am highly educated in true sorrow, so I don't succumb to silly criticism." She writes as a woman in the world, but also a woman who does not live in fear of the world. With Happy Hour we are given the chance to see her perspective and learn from it. And this is a gift to be respected. And yet despite our tremendous differences the author and I have shared so many similar experiences. She writes unabashedly about her ability to capture a room, at being yelled at by men driving by in cars, about being constantly exoticised by white people desperate to fetishise her "mix." "'Are you asking why I'm so pretty? If you are, just ask me that.' Did you know you can push back without anyone even noticing?" One cannot normally speak of these things without being perceived as bragging or arrogant, but they are not so. They are facts. I know, because I have suffered them, too. (Although in my case it is girls cat-calling me from passing cars). There is a crushing directness of so many societal truths laid bare in this novel that is joyfully refreshing. Along with Sally Rooney, Granados also speaks to my experiences of interacting across the Atlantic and across the wide range of social classes I have also easily had access to. Both authors speak to the ease with which poor and incredibly wealthy mix nowadays, and how some are able to gracefully manage the class tension without compromising mutual respect or human connection - and how others are negligent, self-serving, or even exploitative. It is here that the author's personality and mine definitively overlap: we both have a keen eye for whether people are respectful, and the judgement to not always enforce respect even though one could. Some goodreads reviewers have complained that there is no plot or character development in Happy Hour. To this I can only respond: that's the point! And she reminds us of this repeatedly in the book itself! At one point, to choose one example, Isa says she is reading A Rebours, "it's decadent and goes nowhere. You'll like it!" I mean, you really have to be a careless reader to miss it. And it really is unfair to judge a book for failing in something it deliberately seeks to avoid doing. But it would be inaccurate to day Happy Hour goes nowhere. While this review is slightly serious, Granados is downright funny. Happy Hour is chock full of wisdom delivered eith such entertaining style that an unthinking person could pass it by. She writes so incredibly well, J.D. Salinger style, and is full of so many side splitting one-liners that Happy Hour is kind of like a literary Legally Blonde: a reminder not to underestimate the intelligence, capability or ethics of the fun ones - as they could easily be miles ahead of you. No. What matters about Happy Hour is not that the protagonist enjoys character development. The protagonist is obviously unabashedly millennial. She has grown up with the internet at her fingertips and knows more about how things are than an equivalently aged person from previous generations. She knows deeply class mobility no longer exists and so money that comes into one's life might as well be spent on little pleasures, because life is short and there is no hope for us. No. What matters is not character development - she has that already - but that the protagonist finds her way. And if she can, then perhaps we can, too.
Review: Plot: "Happy Hour" is the proof that books don't need extreme and elaborate plots to succeed in telling a story. This novel could be about me, someone I know, or any women in her early 20s eager to find adventure without having the means to do so. Isa and Gala arrive in NYC without much money, only the dream of a well spent summer. Not having much of a plan, they end up becoming a kind of entertainment for richer people. The result is a book about a hazy summer, thick with anxiety and hope. Writing: Granado's writing style reminded me of Sally Rooney's "Conversations with Friends" in a way that it is real, raw and relatable. As much as the plot of this book is not complex, I found myself highlighting quotes and reflecting on them all the time. The book might seem superficial at first but is full of deeper meaning. The one reason why I`m not giving this book a five stars rating is that I wish the side characters had connected more. Often I felt like every time a new person was introduced, the previous one was completely erased from the story. Characters: Gala can seem quite naïve at times, but she has great moments of feminist discusses. Isa (the MC), on the other hand, was crafted to be a smart, wit and down-to-earth woman that, at many times, I could relate to. Everyone else (with few exceptions) seemed to just be using the two girls for their own enjoyment and I am not a fan of that. Verdict: Think of Elizabeth Gilbert's "City of Girls", minus the historical background plus the deep conversations of Sally Rooney's "Conversation with Friends" and that's what you get from Happy Hour. I recommend it! Favorite quote: "The less time spent in public, the safer girls feels. That's not incidental, the world was built this way." Soundtrack: I Am Not a Robot, by MARINA REVIEW WILL BE POSTED ON INSTAGRAM ON SEPTEMBER 1ST
Happy Hour follows Isa and her best friend Gala, as they hit the streets of New York City for a summer of fun. They're broke, they're young, and they'll do anything to keep living the good life. From penny-pinching to contemplating whether or not they should sell their feet pics for money (who hasn't been there, honestly) - the girls navigate summer in the city, galavanting from odd jobs to evenings full of different neighborhoods, and plenty of shiny, wealthy people. But as the summer progresses, the girls are strapped - and they need to turn their newfound love of the city life into something a little more sustainable. A fun read about the possibilities, perils, and pitfalls, that living the (seemingly) glamorous life can hold. Thank you to NetGalley and Verso for advance access to this title!
I expected to like the novel a lot more than I did. The topics and the characters would normally interest me, but the writing style feels almost too light and lacking depth. The characters are all dynamic and captivating. Similarly, the New York scene is one I'm usually a sucker for. However, for some reason, I had a hard time getting started and staying engaged. While I enjoyed the novel, It likely wouldn't be one I would spend 25 dollars on for a hardback version.
A very quick and easy read. Made me miss New York more than ever, however, I just felt like I couldn't fully connect. However, it made me miss my early twenties and wishing I spent my summer in New York just being carefree. An easy summer read for sure!
A quick afternoon read about being young and living in NYC. Overall, a fairly entertaining read, but (perhaps because of the pandemic) this feels vapid and frivilous in a way that it might not otherwise. Although, it certainly is basically an escapist read.
Ok WOW. This book was infinitely better than I ever expected! The book's summary doesn't do the magnitude of this story justice but I'm not sure there are words to truly describe it well enough. This is a book you need to read to understand the experience it carries. Happy Hour is a story of two friends in their early 20s surviving New York City for a summer - in any way they can - as scrappy, beautiful young women who deal in the currency of social capital, as they penny-pinch their way through the city. Told through the eyes of the main character, Isa, through her diary entries, this is a story of aspiration and aimlessness with equal parts relatable and unrelatable. Isa is dry, stoic, and uses her personality and hard, impenetrable exterior as armor. Her recollections will read light and carefree, having you think she is vapid or "cocky", until all of a sudden she slaps you in the face with a line or paragraph that is extremely vulnerable and deep that reminds you she is human and that sometimes personalities are merely a mask. Everything and everyone is deeper than you think - something we often forget in the internet age. I, quite literally, highlighted at least one line, if not more, of every single page in my Kindle. The prose is beautifully written and woven through and I will absolutely be buying a physical copy for my library. This book has an authentic feeling that can truly only come from stories that have actually happened, in some way or another, and regardless of who you are, I'm confident you will find something relatable about Isa Epley. Happy Hour transported me back to when I was 19 and my early 20s, scraping by with similar stories, using my youth in the only way I knew how. TY to NetGalley for the ARC ahead of the USA release date! I highly, highly recommend this read! Review links below: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPTdARDL6vD/ https://www.instagram.com/p/CPd37DtrPE1/
Gala Novak and Isa Epley; two friends in their early 20s come to New York in summer and they did all type of jobs to earn some cash. This book revolves around an adult’s need for money and their desperation for adventure. Both friends head out every night, to build some acquaintance, to get a food invitation; but most of all, to experience the unpredictable. Isa, is charming, beautiful, short heighted girl with a sense of intellect. She calculates her each thought before putting them into action, she is afraid to show her emotions and always carry a – ‘It doesn’t affect me’ attitude with her. Isa’s been loved and cared but she is prone to think otherwise. Gala, is reckless, charming girl with a sense of joy in her. She enjoys wherever she is, she takes the attention when given. But her carelessness led both friends to be separated for a while. What happens next, is totally predictable. The story talks about survival in a big city, making friends, earning & finding one’s passion. Writing style is brilliant, there are so many great lines; feelings are expressed so beautifully. But the story didn’t impress me as much. Characters are exact representation of today’s world.
I just finished this and have so many mixed feelings. Happy Hour follows Gala and Isa, two early-twenty something British women, best friends and broke trying to navigate their way through adult life in the city. This novel was an enigma to me because at first I struggled to connect with the characters, and felt very distant from them and their fate. However as the events progressed I fell in love with them as Granados portrays so perfectly what is is like to be young, seemingly carefree in a city that has so much promise but also so much pretense. I also spent my early twenties in NYC, for me it is a city best experienced without a lot of money, when you're up and coming, full of potential, excitement, irresponsibility, mistakes and growth. It's a city unlike and other and the window it offers to the world is confusing, exciting, unreliable, always changing, and I believe Granados really captured this in her writing style & through the eyes of her characters. This is also a novel about what is means to be a young, maturing woman facing things on your own for the first time. What it means to be best friends in your early twenties, to feel like you both know everyone and no one at all.
This is an oddly beautiful book but one so worth reading. I would highly recommend you immersing yourself in this well told well written story.
I feel like I’ve read several similar novels to Happy Hour but still found much to admire in Granados’s writing and the female friendships and the hardships of your early twenties on a shoestring. The depiction of summertime New York really stood out too.
I'm not sure if this was supposed to be YA but it sort read like that with the breezy conversational style. I whipped through it but I don't know if Isa and Gala. will really stay with me. It read sort of like an alt-Gossip Girl which isn't bad in and of itself but I was expecting a little more depth.
This novel follows the main character Isa in the format of her Diary. Through the entries we see her move to New York from Europe. She moves into an apartment with her friend Gala and we follow these two as they struggle to thrive (and sometimes struggle to even eat) in New York. They are not living in the United States legally so working and earning income is a constant struggle for the two. This is more of a stream of consciousness writing than it is a story that is strictly based in a plot., which is always something that I enjoy. I particularly felt as though this novel did a great job conveying the struggle it is to live in NYC without a large income. Few books truly are able to capture poverty the same way this novel was able to. The writing was so beautiful in my opinion and it really captured the thoughts and personality of the main character. I do not typically enjoy diary entry books but this felt so raw and authentic that it was hard to hate the set up. The novel also felt very much so gatsby-like because Gala and Isa were constantly going to extravagant parties where they met rich men who had a sense of old money. In all this was a beautifully written book that was edged in tragedy and struggle.
I liked the diary format of the main character in this book about NYC in 2013 but there was not much of a plot or anything else going on. Yes, this was a bright and easy read and I liked the stream of consciousness but again, nothing else happened. It was kind of a struggle to read with no much happening but I can understand why another reader would enjoy this. IMO just an ok read and kind of sort of recommended this but it did not blow me away, Again, not for me but other people will like this. Thanks to Netgalley, Marlowe Granados and Verso Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available: 9/7/21
Happy Hour is a fun, fresh, and atmospheric book, that still makes you think about issues of class, gender, race, etc. through the main character and narrator, Isa’s witticisms. Granados channels the “I couldn’t help but wonder”-esque observations of a more self-aware and less privileged Carrie Bradshaw. Fans of Naoise Dolan and Sally Rooney will appreciate the blunt and cynical analysis of New York archetypes. There isn’t much of a plot, it basically just follows Isa and her best friend as they go from one party to the next, but it still kept my attention and I laughed out loud at times and also cried. At times it felt like every single character in the book except for Isa was a terrible person and horrible things kept happening with no balance, which felt unrealistic. But I chalk that up to the medium of first-person narration that implies a skewed portrayal. This is a great debut novel! I am looking forward to reading more of her work! Thanks to Netgalley, Verso, and Marlowe Granados for this advanced copy.
This was is definitely fun and I would highly recommend for a whirlwind of a read! I got through it in one day and enjoyed it!
Happy Hour is an easy, casual read sprinkled with observant musings that prove Isa is set on learning as much she can about the world simply by living in it.
It's nice to see a novel about young women living their lives out from Verso since similar characters are usually trivialized and written off rather than seen as radical.
“I do wonder whether my memories should stay only mine, or have they ever been?” This book was delightful and refreshing and not really at all what I expected. Isa and her best friend, Gala, are spending their summer in NYC. They sell clothes in a market stall by day to make barely enough to pay the rent for their room and feed themselves bodega meals and happy hour cocktails. I expected heavy plot-driving youthful drama a la Gossip Girl meets the financial insecurity of inconsistent work. Instead, the events that happen merely become content for Isa’s journaling, providing sincere reflection and commentary that is not unlike Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar (but a more light-hearted version). This novel shines because of Isa’s insight. She’s got the gift of youth and a keen eye for detail, which makes the instability of the summer that much more fun to read. This book reminded me how quickly we can lose the go-with-the-flow attitude in our adult lives, and it was interesting how often I found myself worrying about Isa and Gala and how they were going to get by. NYC is a lovely backdrop with its assortment of company, specialty cocktails, delectable eats, and intriguing conversations. It’s one of those books that feels like it has a hidden, overarching story, which was my favorite part. I’d recommend especially for fans of The Bell Jar and Sweetbitter!
4.5: This book read like a Whit Stillman film except the characters aren't buoyed by generational wealth and whiteness. The pacing of the novel through Isa's diary mimicked the frenetic pace of a busy, broke, and youthful summer. All of the characters were well realized and interacted with each other in a way that I'm sure would conjure up some familiar feelings in many readers. The strangeness of bumping into someone that brushed you off on the street, or being stuck at a bar with people asking all the wrong questions of you are embodied so adeptly in this work. While there is no "normal" plot, the storytelling is organic and lucid. 10/10 would recommend to anyone who enjoys an NYC novel that delves into female friendships and the many social circles we keep, this is the book for you. Thank you to NetGalley and Verso Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Before I began reading it, I expected "Happy Hour" to be a cross between Ottessa Moshfegh's "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" and Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar", two renowned novels that portray the experiences of young women living in New York City. However, this novel was so much more enjoyable to me. I felt hypnotized by the story, and I already miss the indulgent feeling of reading it for the first time. "Happy Hour" is a plotless literary fiction novel chronicling a young woman's hedonistic, glamourous adventures in NYC from May to August of 2013. Written in the style of a journal, Granados' debut novel perfectly captures the lazy, humid, aimless essence of the urban summer. The narrator, Isa, is such an interesting and intelligent figure. Her confidence is so unwavering that some might consider it arrogance, but that's part of her charm. Though she has no long-term plans to support her extravagant lifestyle, Isa never truly seems to doubt her ability to get ahead. She lives entirely in the present, a feat that is both enviable and somewhat concerning. I loved her witty observations and her ability to see right through people's bullshit. For example, it was so fun to witness her inner thoughts during her conversations with self-absorbed, pretentious men at parties. It's a perfect, thought-provoking summer read. The author's talent shines through, and I can't wait to read more of her work. I'll be recommending this to everyone I know.
Happy Hour chronicles the journey of two women in their early twenties spending the summer months in nyc doing odd jobs to sustain their fun lifestyle of spending the evening/nights out meeting new people and drinking. The book is told in the style of a journal with very little plot and short sentences with most of the journal entries being structured in essentially the same way, which for me started to get a bit repetitive after the first 50 pages. The novel does tackle some interesting topics such as loss and feeling of being lost in the world which I liked, but overall it felt like an early 2000s teen drama; it was fun and quick to read and experience but it won’t really be something that will resonate with me. Thank you to Netgalley and Verso Books (US) for sending me an advanced copy. (2.5 stars out of 5 stars)
“Whenever I’m on the subway or walking in the street alone, there’s a constant feeling of being on display. It’s a feeling I’ve never felt so strongly anywhere else. It’s so tiring, and sometimes I lie in bed not wanting to leave the house because of it. Simply appearing in public means that at any moment someone is free to come up to me, call out to me, graze me.” Happy Hour follows Isa and her best friend Gala, two twenty-one-year-old girls who have moved to New York City with very little money, no visa, and a suitcase full of clothes. They try to find work - that pays in cash - where they can, and make the most of being twenty-one and in the city that never sleeps. The story is narrated in a close third perspective from Isa’s point of view, and I found her tone difficult to get used to - I thought the tone (especially in the beginning) was inconsistent: it would be purposefully ironic one sentence and then weirdly sincere and sentimental in the next, which felt confusing and made me question what I was supposed to feel as a reader. Maybe Isa’s supposed to read as sincere and apathetic at the same time, and I did get used to this after a while but still felt the writing wasn’t always very strong because of that. I think Marlowe Granados is really good at describing specific situations and personality traits, and this is one of the things that makes Isa a fun and enjoyable and sympathetic character. The vibes of the book were very Melancholic, which I really liked: “I once read that “one does not mourn in public,” and maybe that is why I prefer to be outside. I do not like coming home because it is the only place I am unsure of myself. Outside, I know the way to walk across a thoroughfare, feeling practised in my stride. Being alone with myself is being alone with my memories.” Ultimately, I enjoyed the story and the characters, and most of the writing - and I really look forward to reading what Marlowe Granados writes next.
I breezed through HAPPY HOUR in a few sittings, soaking up Isa and Gala's story of a summer in NYC. I loved Granados' writing, the cast of supporting characters, and Isa, the star. This novel captures the feeling of being young, living in a big city, searching for something - for your identify, for something fun to do, for meaning - and it was a really enjoyable read. I kindly received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
This had a crazy number of excellent lines. You'd expect a novel about stateless young girls constantly on the brink of financial ruin and starvation, partying their way through fashionable scenes for meals, to be maudlin, but instead the girls were clever and completely unabashed, and so was the novel. It was full of observations so true they hurt and witticisms that made me chuckle. I loved it.
This book was a fun summer read; it feels like watching The OC or Gossip Girl. There wasn't a ton of substance, but it was satisfying and fun to read.
I loved how the writing made me feel like I was in New York in the summer. However, I am the type of reader that needs more than a pretty setting. I like plot-driven books, and if that is you as well, then this is not the book for you. I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A lovely book. It's a portrait of friendship with an impeccable voice for place. New York really pops off the page. Interspersed with the lush depictions of luxury and partying are really insightful and delightful commentaries on modern life. Highly recommend.
I immediately loved the voice of the narrator. Sort of a mix between Joan Didion, Catcher in the Rye, and The Bell Jar. The content took me some time to get into. It was almost a DNF at 30% because of the seemingly repetitive events and somewhat interchangeable social interactions Isa and Gala were finding themselves in. The story is in no way plot-driven, instead it is the observations of a 21-year-old immigrant (does it ever say where they are from?) to New York City. Isa and the dialogue are detached and aloof in an almost surreal way. I found her aloofness unbelievable at times--she never drops that cool exterior, but I think that is the point of the book. This is not a book with heart or warmth. The characterizations and observations are subtle. Written in a diary format, the entries are sparse and to the point, not at all purpley or flowery, which I liked. She gives just enough to see what is going on, but you really have to read between the lines. In the end, I breezed through it, finding great insight through Isa's spare prose.
A tale of two young women and the summer they spend in New York in 2013. The premise is great-the story is just okay.
As the title and cover themselves suggest, Happy Hour is the book equivalent of an aperitif. I’m thinking of an Aperol spritz and some black olives. Nice enough while you’re having them but once they are gone you’re prepared to move onto something more substantial. That is not to say that Happy Hour has no merits, if anything, my frustration towards this novel stems from the fact that, in many ways, this could have been an excellent read. But, it was an unfunny, shallow, and monotonous story about young pretty people who enjoy drinking and eating at 'in' bodegas. Happy Hour implements the kind of literary devices and motifs that are all the rage in a certain subset of millennial literature. We have a wry narrator who is in her twenties, prone to self-sabotage, alienated 24/7, and leading a rather directionless life. While she does feel detached from those around her, her running commentary is as sharp as a knife. The dialogues have a mumblecore vibe to them so that many of the conversations sound like something we ourselves have heard in RL (the kind of small talk that happens at wannabe-artsy-parties etc). Sadly, I found many of the scenes in Happy Hour to be repetitive and interchangeable with one another. Isa and Gala meet up with some people they may or may not know at a bar or at someone’s flat. They get tipsy, or drunk, talk about nothing in particular with the other guests, and eventually make their way back home by grabbing a taxi. They try to get by sponging off other people, setting up a market stall where they halfheartedly try to sell clothes, pose as models for artists, or even by going to bars and being paid (cash + unlimited drinks) by the owner to attract more clients (making in 3 hours what would take me, a minimum-wage-worker, a whole-ass shift). Because of their immigration status, they cannot apply to ‘desk jobs’, but we never really learn much about that. Their past is very intentionally shrouded in mystery, barely alluded to. I assume they are Canadian given that they speak English fluently and that they seem familiar with American/Western culture. I sort of resented the implication that they are ‘survivors’. They may not have a family to fall back onto, but A) they have each other B) they have travelled and can earn money fairly easily because they are young and pretty C) they are CONNECTED. In what could seem like a running-gag of sorts Isa always seems to come across someone she knows. Most of their ‘friends’ and acquaintances seem well-off and educated and these two are able to go out partying every night or so without actually spending all of their money this way. They make no conscious effort to save up, wasting money on the kind of meals that will not be filling or nutritious (ever heard of rice and beans? clearly not) nor do they try to put a stop to their night lifestyle. While they are quick, Isa especially, to notice how privileged the people around them are, they seem unaware that the fact that beauty is a currency and that their ability to party every night or earn money modelling or sponge off rich obnoxious men derives is directly proportional to their beauty. Isa has ‘suffered’, one of the men she sort of sees briefly during the course of the novel ghosts her or something along those lines and not for one second was I convinced that she was truly broken up about it. The author really tries to make her sound jaded and caustic but her observations were predictably vanilla, and, worst still, always seem to posit her in a good light. The dynamic between Isa and Gala was the most disappointing aspect of the novel. As I’ve said, I’m all for complicated female friendships like the one in Moshfegh’s MYORAR, or between Ferrante’s Lila and Lenù or Morrison’s Sula and Nel or Ruchika Tomar’s Cale and Penny. But here, eh. Isa is clearly better than Gala. Gala is selfish, superficial, a bad friend and possibly even a bad person. She’s a fake whose moments of vulnerability are an act to earn ‘male’ attention or sympathy from others. And I hate that they have to resort to the king of ‘who has a right to be sad’ pissing content. Gala was born in Sarajevo but Isa ridicules the fact that the Bosnian war may have traumatised her since she left when she was just a ‘baby’ (as if her parents’ trauma couldn’t have possibly have affected her growing up) and immediately has to mention her own ACTUAL trauma (her mom died, i think). Like, ma che cazzo? And before you say, clearly Isa believes herself to be the good guy, well, other characters consolidate this narrative of her being GOOD and Gala bad. Every guy they come across prefers Isa to Gala, all of their ‘shared’ friends don’t give two shits about Gala but care about Isa etc etc. And, boy, the storyline was just so very repetitive. Yeah, the author is able to convey a sort of artsy-academic-hipster-millennial atmosphere however, even if a lot of the dialogues in her novel sound like actual conversations (the type you may overhear at parties or in a bar or even while using public transport) that doesn’t result in an incredibly realistic and or compelling narrative. Isa was a very one-dimensional vapid character who manages to be both dull and irksome. She's a twenty-something possibly Canadian woman who describes herself as being both Pinoy and Salvadoreña. She was raised by her mother after her father decided to go MIA or whatever. Her mother died a few years ago and even if Isa barely acknowledges her, her presence is felt by her absence. While I appreciated the author’s subtle approach to Isa’s grief, my heart did not warm up to Isa. I wanted to like her and some of her comments about modern culture or the so-called millennial malaise were relatable(ish), but, I disliked how full of herself she was but not in an obvious egomaniacal sort of way, no, in a more self-pitying, ‘I’m Not Like Other People’, way. She has to put with Gala and the mean people she meets at her parties and her limbs ache after hours spent lying still for a painting and she’s always the one making the money whereas Gala does fuck all and life is not fair that horrible socialites have it better than her. Her navel-gazing wasn’t particularly amusing, her moments of introspection struck me as self-dramatising, and her observations on class, identity, and life in New York were rather vanilla. Worst of all, Isa’s dry narration is profoundly unfunny. She sounds exactly like the people she’s so quick to ridicule. I will say that I did enjoy reading her thoughts on the art of conversation and I did find the novel to have a strong atmosphere and sense of place. You can easily envision the kind of events and parties the girls are in, as well as the kind of crowds occupying these places. It just so happens that like Isa herself I’m not all that keen or rich and pretentious. Unlike Isa however, I do not, and would not want to, move in their same circles. For all her complaining Isa doesn’t really try to forge more meaningful connections nor did she seem to really care about Gala. Their friendship seemed one of convenience and nothing else. That’s more or less it. I wouldn’t have minded if Isa’s voice had been as amusing and entertaining as say the main character in Luster or My Year of Rest and Relaxation or Pretend I’m Dead or You Exist Too Much or The Idiot. It just so happens that I actively disliked Isa. This is weird given that the mcs from the novels I’ve just mentioned are not necessarily nice or kind or strictly likeable. But I found myself drawn to them all the same. Isa just pissed me off. She’s constantly painting herself as the better friend or the better person, and other characters are shown to be bad or mean or shallow. In My Year of Rest and Relaxation both the narrator and her ‘best friend’ are depicted as solipsistic, often immature, decidedly toxic people. Here instead Isa is the good guy and almost every other character is bad (because they are wealthy, white, pretentious, superficial etc.). At one point she’s at a gay bar (if i recall correctly) and someone asks her what she’s doing there and that this isn’t a place for her housemate fends him off immediately (saying something like “she’s my sister you old, white queen”). I’m not keen on authors using gay characters to ‘defend’ straight ones from other lgbtq+ people. Like, it’s okay because a gay character is telling off another gay character. He called her ‘his sister’ so that makes her what, part of the queer community?! This scene just rubbed me the wrong way. What, Isa has a right to be in gay spaces because she has a gay friend and she’s just Not Like Other Straight People? Ma daje! While, yes, I did dislike and was bored by Isa as well her story’s supposed storyline (don’t get me wrong i love a good ol’ slice-of-life now and again but here these parties & co were so samey and intent only on satirising millennials & the-so-called upper-crust) I actually liked the author’s style. It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to connect to Isa (or anyone else for the matter). The cast of ever-changing characters made it hard for me to become familiar with anyone really. Many of them also happen to have silly posh sounding nicknames or names that make it even harder to remember who-the-hell-was-who. Some just exist only in the space of a single scene or to deliver a throwaway line and nothing else besides. The men around Isa all blurred into one generic asshole-ish kind of man. The story ends on a cheesy note, with Isa being ready to finally talk about her past. But I don’t wish to dissuade prospective readers from giving this a shot. If you liked Jo Hamya’s Three Romes or Kavita Bedford’s Friends & Dark Shapes you might like this more than I was able to. It just so happens that, as stated above, I hated Isa and found her narrative to have one too many of the same kind of scenes/conversations. I would have liked more variety in the story and the characters themselves. All in all, it left me wanting.
I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.. What a treat. I loved this book. Very moving portrait of a women making choices to survive in this society on her own terms. I feel like it anymore detail would be spoiling, if not the outcome than at least the joy of discovery, So I would just totally recommend it to anyone who enjoys unusual depictions of female characters, and women finding the strength to live on their own terms.
Such a good book! I loved this story, the characters and the development of the story. At times it took longer than I would of liked but overall I enjoyed it.
This is the perfect book. I have said multiple times that if I never read another book about New York City it'll still be Too Soon. And thus I had avoided this novel all summer. When in reality I apparently don't mind books that are not about being Anxious and falsely Reverent in New York. As Marlowe Granados herself said, "[The bimbo] only punches up." Which is exactly the reaction one should have to New York City. The joke is not on the bombshell. The joke is on the people who moved there to just push capitalist value set morality on like, literature and art. Which is not literature or art. So this book gilds no lilies. It has loads of diamanté in the rough allusions to my all time favorite book, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. A girl can't go on laughing all the time ... after all, bird life is the highest form of civilization. So then we got dressed.
If I saw either of these two girls in a bar, I would instantly hate them. They are vapid, annoying and so, so, SO stupid. That said, in book form, I love them and I love this book. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review.
(3.5 stars) Fun read! I spent my early 20’s in NYC as a starving artist—hopping from one bar, art show or warehouse party to the next. Reading Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados reminded me of the carefree, fluid nature that is the playground of New York City, where your days are spent chasing dreams and your nights are spent in transit exploring one cool location or conversation after another. Happy Hour is a contemporary novel that follows two young girls, Isa and Gala, in their first sweltering summer after moving to NYC. They can barely afford their place in Bed-Stuy and are surviving on the meager diet of bodega staples and street hot dogs. Despite their economic struggles, with a little bit of mascara and a clean outfit, Isa and Gala still manage to appear glamorous while exploring all that the city has to offer. I thought Happy Hour captured the grit and glamour, and feast or famine lifestyle of NYC well. I enjoyed the fluid writing style, the constant entrance and exit of city characters and thought this was a very interesting and accurate depiction of New York for the young and pretty. Thank you to the publisher: Verso Books, and Netgalley for my gifted egalley.
If the vibe of HOT GIRL SUMMER was a book, it would be Happy Hour. Two twenty-something dazzling young women decide to take over NYC, cocktail-by-cocktail. Formatted as a diary of one summer, readers are taken on a journey through Isa and Gala's world in NYC, and the excitement and stress of making it work in the Big Apple when you have no job, but lots of connections. I will admit that the book feels repetitive (wake-up, find work, go out, drink, fall asleep, repeat) at times. But Isa's internal thoughts help to break it up. the interactions between Isa and her male suitors felt very realistic. (Haven't we all had a past boyfriend who is giving mix signals and was confusing all the time?) I found myself picking the book up whenever I had a moment as I wanted to know what shenanigans Isa and Gala would find themselves in next!
I had wondered for most of this novel why it felt weirdly familiar in tone/style and when reading the acknowledgments and seeing Anita Loos credited as a form on inspiration it made sense! This is very much a modern, and , in my opinion, more gripping version of 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' by Anita Loos. The writing is blunt but at times exceptionally eloquent - a mix that worked for Isa, our main character. Having a story of frivolity being told to suddenly then turn in to a thoughtful passage about race, women's rights, grief or depression was such a clever mechanism and one I thoroughly enjoyed. A great read!
The story of the neo-flapper Isa - with her reckless behavior and relentless hedonism even against her deficient financial circumstances - is raw, vibrant and biting. In her debut novel, Marlowe Granados captures the coming of age story of a “flâneuse” - an urban idler woman dedicated only to the discovery of a city - through her summer in New York and fittingly the book is released in the first week of September by Verso Books. What a 21-year-old woman could be searching in New York may have many possible answers, but non apply for Isa, she is not looking for answers. Isa spends the night indulging not in mere answers but drinks, what she mostly indulges in is her signature french 75 being an invention of New York it binds Isa - like a ribbon - to her flâneuse manners. With an occasional touch of comedy of manners she gives this whole account of a summer well spent, a hilarious tone. The novel for me is more than a summer well spent in New York but a rough guide into relentless hedonism and harmless flânerie.
Happy Hour by Marlow Granados 3 stars This book was not exactly what I expected. I expected more of a story with all the usual rising action, climax, resolution. Instead, it was a collection of experiences that Isa and Gala go through during their time in NY. There are also flashbacks from Isa’s time in London and other countries. She’s been traveling the world since she was 18yrs old, now 21. Many of these experiences are similar, they go out, they meet various artists or people from academia, they try to better themselves with whatever they are able to get from these people. There were some lines that were quotable front he book like, “When you are smarter than you look, you have the advantage” What saved me from giving up on this book was it was also a selection on Libro.fm and the narration done by, Bronwyn Szabo, was excellent. It brought more energy to the story for me. This was the roughest ARC I've ever read in regards to edits needed. There were many words per page that had left letters out. I felt like I was trying to interpret someone who had texted the story with many letters left out or that I was a student doing a cloze exercise. A line from the book really summed up my feelings. One of the many men they met along the way said of Isa’s storytelling style “ when you start a story you don’t know how it’s going to end up.” That is kind of how I felt through the whole book. Where is this going? This one just didn’t do it for me. Thank you to Netgalley and Verso books for the digital ARC and Libro.fm for the audiobook version.
If you take Emily in Paris and Anna Delvey, The Soho scammer plus add in the nuance of being a brown young adult you get Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados. Reading and listening to this book was a similar to when I watched the whole first season of Emily in Paris... the characters aren't likeable, the characters have a faux-self awareness, and it's all too blase, but at the same time I stayed to the end.
Twenty-one year olds Isa and Gala arrive in New York City for the summer, with few plans other than to support themselves by selling clothing at a weekend stall and having fun. They manage to (mainly) do both, but soon learn that their clothing stall won't support the exorbitant rent they're paying on their summer sublet. And their social encounters aren't always as much fun as they'd hoped they'd be. Slightly reminiscent of Holly Golightly, Isa slowly reveals her backstory, giving an unexpected depth to her party-girl image. A Manhattan where people go to parties, bars, ride the subway, etc. is hard to imagine in 2021, but this book was a fun escape from reality. I enjoyed it, but it's really meant for a younger reader than me. The protagonists are my older daughter's age--yikes. But the author's voice is refreshing and unique. #HappyHour #NetGalley
Happy Hour follows Isa Epley on a summer of working hard at not working with her friend Gala Novak. They venture from one night of parties and people with no one- businessmen, artists, and celebs – safe from their critical eye. The classification “Hot Girl Summer as a Novel” is an honest and very fair one. This book is refreshingly quotable and entertaining in a way that I had hoped for but did not expect. I remember the fragility of counting every coin and worrying about being hungry, while others around me sabotaged me so easily. Female friendships, especially the early broke ones are such a trip. Being broke in a city like New York is a ride. During Isa’s trip to the Hamptons, Marlowe writes about that upper-class racism in a way that I deeply felt, where Isa’s otherness is a steady sense of danger. This is the kind of coming-of-age novel, slice of life tale that we are often fed by young male authors, and if she were one there would be a million accolades at the ready. Granados has a gift for calling out New York City types that feels very of the moment and timeless at the same time. She’s that girl who stands off to the side of a party/event/bar/club watching the room and you’re aware that she’s judging everything, and this is what she’s thinking. Smart, funny, a must read. Thanks to Net Galley and Verso Books for the ARC!
Surreal and okay read. Not much that I didn't like, but I not much that I loved. I would be interested in reading something else by this author.
I absolutely adored this book - delightful, fun and whip-smart. Cannot wait to see what Granados writes next!
A very unexpected book. Starts out as what seems to be a chick-lit party girl tale about 21-year-old Isa and Gala who move from London to New York City, who in between "doing nothing" half-heartedly run a stall in a street market on weekends, in between living New York night life to the fullest on everyone else's dime. A pretty good playbook for how to hobnob with the NY jet set for essentially free. Very lighthearted at the start, particularly Isa's situation turns darker as time goes on, and we eventually get a look at the grief that lies under her carefree facade. While not the book I thought I'd be reading, an interesting surprise. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.