When the Bergamots move from a comfortable upstate college town to New York City, they're not quite sure how they'll adapt--or what to make of the strange new world of well-to-do Manhattan. Soon, though, Richard is consumed by his executive role at a large New York university, and Liz, who has traded in her academic career to oversee the lives of their children, is hectically ferrying young Coco around town.
Fifteen-year-old Jake is gratefully taken into the fold by a group of friends at Wildwood, an elite private school.
But the upper-class cocoon in which they have enveloped themselves is ripped apart when Jake wakes up one morning after an unchaperoned party and finds an email in his in-box from an eighth-grade admirer. Attached is a sexually explicit video she has made for him. Shocked, stunned, maybe a little proud, and scared--a jumble of adolescent emotion--he forwards the video to a friend, who then forwards it to a friend. Within hours, it's gone viral, all over the school, the city, the world.
The ensuing scandal threatens to shatter the Bergamots' sense of security and identity, and, ultimately, their happiness. They are a good family faced with bad choices, and how they choose to react, individually and at one another's behest, places everything they hold dear in jeopardy.This Beautiful Life is a devastating exploration of the blurring boundaries of privacy and the fragility of self, a clear-eyed portrait of modern life that will have readers debating their assumptions about family, morality, and the sacrifices and choices we make in the name of love.
©2012 Helen Schulman (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"This Beautiful Life stylishly dramatises the effect of new technologies on old moralities." (The Guardian)
"Helen Schulman's novel about the catastrophic consequences of one reflex action is firmly based in The Slap territory. That bestseller was a crude, overlong attempt at exposing state of the nation mores; this is its subtle, erudite, and terse counterpart." (The Telegraph)
"... as much as this book fiercely inhabits our shared online reality, it operates most powerfully on a deeper level, posing an enduring question about American values - is it worth leaving a perfectly good life to grab a chance for something more?" (The New York Times)
An interesting insight into the technological age we now live in and the effect and impact this now has on our lives and those around us, especially those not mature enough to know the full consequences - a really good book, well worth a listen, especially if you have teenagers!!!!
I could not stop listening to this audiobook and it has stayed with me since. It is a beautifully, compactly written masterpiece that translates perfectly to audio. The alternately narrated chapters work well and Jennifer Woodward is a compelling narrator. The family are not particularly likeable but, along with the society of wealthy Manhattanites they inhabit, are brilliantly characterised . As the parent of a teenager I found that the moral questions it raises are particulary relevant and thought provoking.
I persevered with this book but somehow how it always felt like it was just starting. I do not think the narrator helped as her monotone delivery seemed to suggest that something more was about to be revealed but it never happened. I enjoyed the last chapter but can't help thinking that much of the middle could have been dispensed with.
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