“It took me a long time to understand that what I had wanted was not a picture of something perfect. I already had that. What I had wanted was the feeling inside the pictures, the thing I had been trying to buy and drink and eat and not eat and fake my way to all my life. I wanted what everyone wanted. I wanted love.”
I love this quote. How real is that feeling in our land of Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat? Its SO SO easy to see something online and then see it again and again in various permutations and think "Oh, I want that." and then "Oh, I want people to think I have that too." Without even realize you're doing it.
Swan Huntley's We Could Be Beautiful was so much of that sentiment, wrapped up in a twisty thriller of sorts. Catherine is a thirty something Manhattan woman with seemingly the "perfect" life. Fancy apartment, clothes, owner of a boutique card shop, spa days and a massages...all those things that cost money. What she doesn't have is love, which is a resounding theme throughout the story and the thing that makes her question what she's really doing with her life. When she meets William, a man with similar tastes, she immediately falls for him. He says and does all the right things. And she wants so desperately to love someone and be married and have all those married couple things. As their relationship continues she starts to pick up on some strange signs, words from her mother's diary, little things that make her wonder if William is being truthful about his past and their connection through their parents long ago. The ending was a bit of a shocker to me and something I'm not sure would really ever happen, but still good none the less, with where it leaves Catherine emotionally.
There was a lot about this book that I loved. Reading this story through Catherine's privileged viewpoint was kind of like putting on a pair of fancy shoes and pretending you wear them everyday to work (and not just once a year on your birthday). I know some reviewers mentioned a disconnect because of this but I really loved reading about fancy lunches and dresses from Bloomingdales and buying art (real art!). It made the story more enjoyable, slipping on that lens for a while and viewing the world as if money was no object.
I also loved that Catherine was able to come down from all of that "privilege" and learn something from the lack of responsibility she'd had for so long when it came to money. As much as this book was a page turner trying to figure out what William was really up to, it was also about Catherine figuring out whats really important, love.
Published by Doubleday