Don’t get us wrong: We love a good sprawling, multigenerational epic as much as the next bookworm, but we can also get behind parking ourselves on the couch and watching hours of reality TV.
Enter The Favorite Sister, a new novel by Jessica Knoll, which has all the hair pulling (literally) of a Bravo show but in novel form.
Knoll’s second book (after 2015’s smash-hit Luckiest Girl Alive) centers on a group of five successful New York women on a reality show—part Real Housewives, part Shark Tank—called Goal Diggers, and is narrated by three of the cast members: Fan favorite Brett, a cool, tattooed 27-year-old who owns a popular spin studio; her older sister Kelly, a single mother; and Stephanie, a best-selling author of erotic novels.
Right off the bat we learn that Brett has been—wait for it—murdered. The rest of the novel alternates between past and present and reconstructs the events leading up to Brett’s death—and who’s responsible for it.
The motivations, as you might expect, have to do with money. And it’s a goal the characters have in common with Knoll, herself, who last month wrote a buzzy opinion piece for The New York Times called “I Want to Be Rich and I’m Not Sorry.”
“Success, for me, is synonymous with making money,” she concedes. “I want to write books, but I really want to sell books. I want advances that make my husband gasp and fat royalty checks twice a year. I want movie studios to pay me for option rights and I want the screenwriting comp to boot.”
It’s interesting, then, to look at her celebrity-grubbing characters through the lens of financial feminism. Are they so-called “fame whores,” or is the idea of a fame whore just a misogynistic trope meant to antagonize ambitious women?
Basically, you could read way (way) into The Favorite Sister as a cultural commentary, or you could treat it like a good old beach read…the page-turning equivalent of an Andy Cohen recap.