The Misadventures of Oliver Booth Review
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Portly antiques dealer Oliver Booth has never wanted anything more than to be welcomed with open arms into the inner circles of Palm Beach society. Well, he’d also like to be rich. And being famous wouldn’t hurt, either. But being welcomed into Palm Beach society would definitely be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, he’s fat and awkward, and his antiques shop (which he fills with cheap Mexican knock-offs posing as real French antiques) is just off the only street where anyone who’s anyone in Palm Beach shops.

Twenty-something Frenchman Bernard Dauphin was once just a waiter at the Morningwood Club. But Oliver decided that Bernard’s authentic French accent was just what he needed to help him sell his fake French furniture. And he was right. Palm Beach grande dame Margaret Van Buren quickly takes an interest in Bernard and decides to send him—and Oliver, too—on a shopping trip to Paris to help her furnish her guest house. But what Oliver initially thought was his big break soon turns into one big disaster.

Written as a satire of Palm Beach high society (and those who leech on it), The Misadventures of Oliver Booth: Life in the Lap of Luxury starts out strong, offering a look at the workings—and the members—of one of the town’s prestigious clubs. But the book’s delightfully subtle snarkiness doesn’t last long—and the focus of the story soon turns from the town’s clueless socialites to its small-time antiques dealer.

Oliver Booth has—as far as I can tell—not a single redeeming quality. He’s obnoxious and disgusting and mean. He lies, he cheats, and he abuses his staff. And, since he’s the story’s main character, he makes the book an uncomfortable read. I couldn’t stand the character, so I didn’t want to keep reading. I didn’t even want to see him get his just desserts; I just wanted to put the book down and move on to something else.

Fortunately, once Oliver and Bernard arrive in Paris—and, even more so, after they get back—Oliver practically disappears. On the other hand, that’s also when the story completely falls apart. Suddenly, it’s no longer about Oliver or his antiques or his shady dealings. Instead, it’s about Bernard—and his attempt to keep an eye on Margaret Van Buren’s precocious grandson, Martin.

In the end, The Misadventures of Oliver Booth tries so hard to cover as many of Palm Beach’s foibles as possible that it completely loses its focus. And, as a result, readers are likely to completely lose interest.

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