I watched the Netflix series “Inventing Anna” before reading this book, so I knew what was coming. And I wanted to sympathize with the author, but really, it’s hard to feel sympathy for someone, presumably intelligent and professional, who was so dazzled by the idea of a famous rich person as a friend that she tossed aside all rational thought.
There is a lot (too much) detail provided by the author at the outset, details about her upbringing and early days working in New York. Honestly, it didn’t make me root for her.
Time and time again, Anna Sorokin’s actions SHOULD have given her pause, and time and time again she brushed them off. “Even when I disagreed with her, or was embarrassed by her entitlement (she cut in front of people constantly), Anna’s choosiness made me value her approval and feel privileged to be her friend.” She felt privileged to be her friend! Again and again.
But here is why I never got invested in Rachel: “Anna also appealed to a certain part of me, and not necessarily the best part. Because of her, I was often late for things, I drank too much, and I neglected other friendships. I felt proud that Anna liked me, but was it possible, at the same time, to feel subconsciously ashamed?” It was because Anna had cachet, entitlement, money (but we learn, not really). The author went along with all of Anna’s worst character traits because she was getting something in return – a table at the exclusive Le Coucou or entree into one of the exclusive nightclubs that only allowed in the most attractive people – Good lord.
The author takes us through, in tedious, painstaking detail, each day (practically) of her interactions with Anna. Anna hardly ever had money to cover a tab, so the author gladly picked up the check, even though Anna was supposedly a German heiress and the author worked a regular job in Manhattan. Fool me once….well, you know the rest.
It’s the trip to Marrakesh that is really at the heart of this book. Apparently, the $7,500-per-night riad Anna wanted to book was something one of the Kardashian sisters had used. See what I mean? Chase the shiny celebrity. And because Anna ONCE AGAIN had an issue with her credit card, and the resort management was threatening the vacationers, the author agreed to hand over not only her personal American Express card, but the one she held for work, too. The little vacation ended up costing over $60,000. It’s so obscene.
So, for months Rachel (the author) tried to get Anna to repay her this very large sum of money, and every day Anna had another excuse. I mean, how many times would you nod your head or rationalize Anna’s lies before you got some clarity? We’re talking about a lot of money here, money the author reminded us often was a LOT OF MONEY.
Giving the author a little credit for the fact that, once she had clarity, and understood that Anna was nothing more than a con artist, she did a very good job of detailing all the expenses and conversations to the authorities. And, she pointed out the fact that the media focused more on what Anna would wear to court each day – the media bought into Anna’s new con, to turn herself into a social media star. (Still working, apparently – she has over a million followers on Instagram – hey, I never said Americans were smart).
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s to stop being dazzled by people like Anna Sorokin – who cares if you can’t get in to the swanky club? Aren’t there more important things in life? Especially if you’re in your twenties? I mean, maybe not. But there should be more important things.
I don’t know what Rachel Williams is doing these days. It doesn’t matter to me. I hope she’s healthy and putting her life back together.
If you want to read the book, here’s a link: https://tinyurl.com/yc8rjbxc
Book Review Tuesday is on vacation for a few weeks! I have an editing project in the works and at some point, I need to get back to my own writing. See you soon!