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Margaret and Letty, best friends since childhood and now living on opposite coasts, reach their mid-30s and begin to chafe at their sense that they are not where they ought to be in life. Margaret, driven and overconfident, decides the best way to rectify this is to quit her job and whip out a literary tour de force. Frustrated almost immediately and humiliated at every turn, Margaret turns to Letty for support. But as Letty, a stay-at-home mother of four, begins to feel pressured to make a good showing in the upper-middle-class Los Angeles society into which her husband's new job has thrust her, Margaret sees a plot unfolding that's better than anything she could make up. Desperate to finish her book and against her better nature, she pushes Letty to take greater and greater risks, and secretly steals her friend's stories as fast as she can live them. Hungry for the world's regard, Margaret rashly sacrifices one of the things most precious to her, until the novel's suspenseful conclusion shows her the terrible consequences of her betrayal.

Widely celebrated for her debut novel, Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz once again proves herself to be a writer of remarkable depth and range. All Is Vanity probes into the mysteries of the human heart and uncovers the passions that drive ordinary people to break the rules in pursuit of their own desires.

©2002 Christina Schwarz (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

Critic reviews

"The hilariously disastrous both a page-turner and a cautionary tale of consumerism run amok." (The New York Times)
"Schwarz has a wicked eye for human foibles...As funny as it is cruel, the novel sweeps you along on its fast-track slide to hell." (Publishers Weekly)
"A wickedly funny satire filled with spot-on details." (Booklist)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • DH
  • 11-08-04

Strange Bedfellows

Why are these two people friends? This book is expertly written and humoursly woven around a tragic situation. The writing of this book must have been quit hard to write. The things Margaret does to her friend are unforgiveable. I loved it and cried at the end - Life is a cruel taskmaster - it is important for all of us to discover our talent and not copy from someone's life - it can come to the crumbling of oneself and friendship - As usual Blair reads it so good!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Sara Gallinger
  • 29-08-04

These people are too stupid!

I loved Christina Schwarz's earlier Drwoning Ruth. This book was totally disappointing. While the writing was ok and the narrator did her best I could not stand the silly self absorbed characters. The point of view switched which was refreshing but not enough time spent with Letty to relieve the drivel of Margaret's life. Buy Drowning Ruth instead and listen to it twice!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • 02-06-09


Drivel is the word I kept hearing in my head as I read All is Vanity. Of course, the title says it all, but I had to spend all those hours listening to 2 immature, neurotic women bemoan decent lives while living in their fantasy worlds. I wish I hadn't bothered. Stick to Drowning Ruth which was a fantastic read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Patti
  • 11-06-06

Get Drowning Ruth Instead

I quite agree with Sara!! Christina Schwarz's first book Drowning Ruth was as good as this book is bad.

It starts out pleasant enough but goes nowehere fast. Christina could have been writing about herself, not being able to get a good idea to start writing this book.

As Sara said, buy Drowning Ruth instead and listen to it twice!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon Schwartz
  • 08-05-12

Msut read-like looking in a mirror!

Would you listen to All Is Vanity again? Why?

I would not listen to it again because the story has a build up that once you have read it and know what the outcome will be , the enjoyment might be lessened.

Who was your favorite character and why?

both characters stroke a cord with me and I could easily put myself in their shoes.

Have you listened to any of Blair Brown’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no I have not.

If you could rename All Is Vanity, what would you call it?

Keeping up appearences!!

Any additional comments?

After reading Drowning Ruth years ago, I enjoyed this book greatly, although they are not similar. I have definitely become a Christina Schwarz fan.