The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza
Published by Doubleday
Publication date: May 19th 2015
It’s no secret that I love fashion and all things related to it. The September issue of the major magazines is one of my favorite purchases of the year so a novel about the world of fashion publishing is bound to be a big bowl of happy for me. In The Knockoff Imogen Tate is the long-time editor of Glossy magazine. When she returns to the helm after six months of medical leave it is to find her beloved magazine has been converted to an app. An app being managed by her former assistant, Eve, who is twenty-six and wastes no time in letting Imogen know that she is out-of-touch and unneeded. The only reason she is being kept on is to lend the site a veneer of credibility amongst designers, publicists, and other fashion industry insiders. Imogen is faced with either playing by Eve’s rules and watching her work be destroyed or trying to save the magazine she created.
Authors Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza team up in The Knockoff to produce All About Eve 2.0 (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop and go watch it. NOW) with Eve’s disdain of Imogen masking a desperate need to be like her. Add to that the manic pace of today’s technological advances and app happy society and the field is primed for battle. Imogen still has a Filofax and uses the phone to contact people. She has no Twitter or Instagram account and no interest in either while Eve is the master of all things digital. She is a mix of Britney Spears and Genghis Khan in heels, bubbly charm on social media but brusque indifference in person. She would be more of a parody except that Sykes and Piazza are savvy enough to give her the kind of brains that make sense into today’s business world. With her team of techno-slaves she wants to change Glossy from a magazine to a shopping site.
And with one click two hundred audience members made a purchase. “Your information is already in the system. We conveyed it to the individual retailer. We know where you want it shipped. We know how you want it shipped. No need to go off the page. Your receipt will be emailed to you. You can continue reading now, with the knowledge that your product will be on its way to you within the next eighteen hours.”
The digital magic found in The Knockoff is just part of what the novel so much fun to read. The only teeny-tiny complaint I have is that Imogen is too virtuous. I understand the wisdom that comes with age and the restraint it gives her—I haven’t verbally abused a subordinate in ages and now recognize it’s not a good thing to do—but Imogen moves into saintly territory and it polarizes the novel more than is necessary. Eve is a stereotype of her generation in all her self-aggrandizing, self-absorption, selfie selfing rudeness and Imogen never even snaps at her or cuts her down to size with an icy response. I needed just a skosh of temper.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that two of my favorite subjects are fashion and reading so I was pre-disposed to like The Knockoff. What was implicit in that statement was that not just any old novel on the subject would do. In the same way I prefer quality in my clothes I look for it in my fiction and The Knockoff delivers. It’s crisp like the best white shirt and as sharp as stilettos on marble, making it the perfect addition to any reading wardrobe.