Yale-educated Judith Lee has a disastrous work history, she is months behind on the rent for her New York City apartment and her parents have stopped supporting her. So what is an attractive young woman, descended from Korean royalty, to do? Become a courtesan, of course!When Jude's young aunt introduces her to the mysterious Madame Tartakoff, she is drawn into the pampered life of a kept woman. Her 11 young co-workers are not actually beautiful, but all have privileged, aristocratic backgrounds similar to Jude's. And when Madame Tartakoff sets Jude up with an irresistible classical violinist named Yvgeny who gives Jude a handful of credit cards from famous department stores, Jude thinks she has finally found a job that is perfect for someone of her superior lineage. Until, that is, she meets the even more irresistible Joshua Spinoza, a broke Irish/Jewish Ph.
D. candidate in philosophy at Columbia. Joshua argues with her, insults her, eats pickles from street vendors and (gasp) makes her sit in the dizzying top row of the Met, where people actually wear sweaters instead of designer evening clothes, during a performance of La BohÂme. Y. Euny Hong's background as a journalist for such publications as The New York Times, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal seems an odd preparation for this wry, clever debut novel, but perhaps it's her experience as one of the founders of Rumpus Magazine, the humorous, controversial Yale University tabloid, that gives real insight into her writing style. Arrogant, narcissistic Jude might normally be a difficult heroine to root for, though some family secrets and unfortunate events finally humanize her but only slightly; luckily for readers she never loses her hilarious edge in this captivating, sophisticated high-society comedy. Dedra Anderson writes from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.