book review: Mercury in Retrograde


Mercury in Retrograde
author: Paula Froelich
publisher: Simon and Schuster

It was tiresome. All Lipstick wanted to do was go home and sew more, to do something she felt so passionate about, and create a tangible product. She loved darting dresses and hemming shirts. She adored creating confections out of her own clothes and fitting them to her—or Penelope’s or Dana’s—body. And when a dress or shirt was done, there was the satisfaction of wearing it, or seeing it posted on the website and then being praised by people who had no idea where the clothes had come from. It was the purest form of flattery, with no strings attached, because no one could figure out who the designer was; they just wanted the clothes.
The few hours of spare time she had were spent with Penelope and Dana, who didn’t care what her father did for a living or where she shopped. They were just fun. And for the first time in her life, Lipstick felt accepted for who she was, not what she was—or who her parents were.

Mercury in Retrograde focuses on three women in their late-twenties who live in the same brownstone in SoHo. Though quite different, the women find some commonalities and become friends. Having been a reporter for New York Post’s Page Six, author Paula Froelich facilely and colorfully details the lives of these young women, especially the socialite and newspaper/ television reporter.

Penelope Mercury is a beat reporter at New York Telegraph. She has worked there for five years and has her eye on a court reporter position. When she gets overlooked for a newer reporter, she quits and ends up working for a cable television station. Her jobs take on a ridiculous quality very much like Bridget Jones [reporting in her underwear for national underwear day] but Penelope works hard and keeps at it to prove that she can persevere. Lena “Lipstick” Lippencrass is a socialite and editor at a fashion magazine, where she covers the socialite scene. When her parents suddenly cut her off, she must make do on a pittance of a salary and moves to SoHo. Soon she starts to design her own clothes by re-working her own wardrobe. This garners much attention. Finally, living in the penthouse, is successful attorney Dana Gluck. Dana is recently divorced and thirty pounds overweight. All three girls come together due to a mutual gay friend and private yoga classes at Dana’s apartment.

The young women learn from each other and start to see themselves for who they truly are on the inside not outside. In developing this unlikely friendship, the three women find strength to make changes in their lives. While Mercury in Retrograde has a lot of laughs it also illustrates three independent women making their way in Manhattan. These women are becoming successful on their own terms and in a manner that makes them most content. Mercury in Retrograde is a fun, breezy read that is also thoughtful and provides the inside scoop on living and working in Manhattan.

GRADE: B

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