Poor Oliver Booth. He's big. He's sweaty. He's the proprietor of an antique shop in Palm Beach but his taste is questionable and his antiques are...well... not. He desperately wants to be part of high society but they know an outsider when they see one and he has no hope of breaking in. He can't keep an assistant, either, because his basic nature tends toward grumpy, lazy and greedy.
The big New Year's Eve party at the Morningwood Club is a big night for Oliver. He plans to recoup the steep ticket price by being first in line at the buffet table. Unfortunately, the evening is a complete disaster for him. But he does meet a smart young waiter, Bernard, who agrees to be the replacement for Oliver's recently fired assistant.
When Margaret Van Buren, the doyenne of Palm Beach society, pays a visit to Oliver's shop, he is eager to sell her a large quantity of his inventory. She picks out the only nice piece in the place, which turns out to have been selected by Bernard. It seems he has quite an eye. She offers Bernard, and Oliver by default, a trip to Paris to buy furnishings for her guesthouse.
Bernard & Oliver have vastly different ideas of what they are going to buy. Bernard wants to buy quality pieces at thrifty prices. Oliver wants to make the biggest possible profit off of Mrs. Van Buren. The trip to Paris is a contest of wills that is hilarious, Oliver doesn't have a prayer.
I loved the following paragraph. If you have traveled to Europe and arrived early in the morning, you will appreciate the wry humor:
"It was 9:15 in the morning, the hour at which most American travelers are dropped at the doorsteps of European hotels like so many exhausted babies, hoping desperately that their accommodations would be ready only to find that the departing guests had not yet vacated their rooms and would not do so for hours. Most of these unfortunate travelers are forced to wander the streets aimlessly, with intermittent stops to refuel with double espressos that become decreasingly potent as the effects of jet lag begin to sink in. This journey ends when they return to the registration desk of the hotel exhausted, disheveled, and halitotic, to be presented--in most but not all cases--with that most satisfying of rewards, a key to a room."
This book is a fun, light read that pokes fun at the pretentious, at the rich, at the self-important. Common sense and honesty are rewarded, deviousness and greed are bested in the wittiest possible way. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the further misadventures of Oliver and Bernard.
Visit David Desmond's website here.
The Misadventures of Oliver Booth is published by Greenleaf Book Group Press. ISBN 978-1-929774-56-2
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