Published by Harper
Publication date: May 20th 2014
Sara Shepard is well-known for her YA series Pretty Little Liars which went on to become a wildly successful television show. Now she steps out of the YA world and into the world of wealthy young women in her new novel, The Heiresses: A Novel. The Saybrook family is known for two things: insane wealth and a curse that seems to be knocking them off at an alarming rate. The eldest daughter, Poppy, president of Saybrook Diamonds and perceived to be the family’s brightest gem for her ability to succeed at everything, whether personal or professional, jumps from her office window to her death. As the remaining four women gather to mourn Poppy’s death questions and memories spring up around them at an alarming rate. Each one is rooted in a summer five years earlier that ended with the drowning death of the man who was set to become Saybrook’s president—the job that ultimately went to Poppy.
Shepard is no slouch at setting the tone of the novel. Each of the women is quickly and clearly defined in somewhat preset categories. Corinne is the over achieving business liaison for the company who has been the prime force behind making Saybrook a global entity. Her sister, Aster, is a freewheeling former model happily living the high life (and getting high) by burning through her trust fund. Their cousin Rowan is the company attorney and has no time for anything but work while their other cousin, Natasha, is the misfit who disinherited herself as a teenager without giving any reason why she no longer wanted anything to do with the Saybrook business or fortune.
The Heiresses unfolds at a rapid pace with clues, feuds, misunderstandings, and moneyed settings that keep readers agog (and sets the stage for possible movie rights). Shepard is savvy enough about her readers to know that the inner lives of her characters will be of little interest but the use of salacious and in-your-face technologies to make the lives of celebrities miserable are endlessly fascinating. To this end, there is a website called The Blessed and the Cursed, devoted solely to the heiresses, photographing them at their worst and counting them down as they die, as well as phone videos and computer hacking to capture moments not meant to be seen or heard. The Heiresses is a light beachy read arriving just in time for Memorial Day weekend and will provide an afternoon’s entertainment while sunning or lounging poolside.