Time's a thief / B.G. Firmani.
Booklist Reviews 2017 March #2
Kendra Lowenstein is somewhat legendary for her absence on the Barnard campus, which is why Francesca "Chess" Varani is so surprised to meet her on a random street corner in New York. Immediately fascinated by an eccentricity so affected that it's unaffected, Chess starts spending time at the Lowensteins' 11th Street mansion, much to the chagrin of her punk-rock student friends. Firmani really captures the grit and promise of 1980s New York, with too many cigarettes and dingy punk shows, when it was both unusual and magical for kids to come from rural Pennsylvania (as Chess did) for school. Chess is like The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway, the straight vessel for the eccentricities of her new, rich friends—Kendra, her heartbreaking brother, her infamous mother—and their genteel mental illness straight out of a Salinger novel. And yet, as she orbits the cruelty and fabulosity of the Lowensteins, the novel is her coming-of-age story, one that continues well into her thirties and traverses everything from an intense love affair to dubious employment. A leisurely exploration of character and place that, when you connect to Chess, packs a wallop. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 December #1
Smart but insecure, working-class Barnard student Francesca "Chess" Varani is entranced by supremely self-involved classmate Kendra, then takes a postgraduate job with chic intellectual Clarice Marr—all related from the forlorn perspective of the 2008 financial downturn. Firmani has published in such venues as the Kenyon Review; propulsive prose.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2017 February #1
In the late 1980s, Barnard student Francesca (Chess) Varani is a budding intellectual and punk rocker dazzled by New York City, her own heady sense of independence, and her deliverance from a destitute, unhappy family in a dull, depressing hometown. When she bumps into fellow student Kendra Marr-Löwenstein outside the subway station one night, Chess is drawn in by the other girl's old-world glamour and oddball charisma. Thus begins her obsession and long-term love/hate relationship with the well-heeled, dysfunctional Marr-Löwenstein family, which includes the malevolent, imperious matriarch Clarice Marr, a renowned feminist writer who hires Chess as a live-in personal assistant after college; and Kendra's drug-addicted brother Jerry, a fragile genius with whom Chess falls deeply in love. A wistful Chess, still an aspiring writer working in a soul-crushing temp job, recounts the story in 2008, with the wisdom of an additional 20 years of life experience, in a post-9/11 New York hit by the Great Recession.