Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier
Published by Berkley
Publication date: January 25, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Suspense
”I get so bored sometimes, I think I will do anything to stop it.”
In the ongoing efforts to keep my brain distracted but engaged, I moved from fantasy into the darker side of my reading (and my personality?) with a novel I loved, but can only describe as deeply twisted. Good Rich People is the story of a privileged LA couple, Graham and Lyla, Graham’s even more elite mother, Margo, and the young homeless woman who inadvertently gets pulled into their games.
On the surface Lyla has it all—a gorgeous husband, gorgeous home, and more money than she’ll ever spend. Her only problem? Her mother-in-law. Her controlling, vituperative MIL whose son depends on her for most of their income and has been raised to have the same disgust, for anyone who is poorer then they are. This doesn’t apply to Lyla, who largely feels the same way about the common man, but it does mean her marriage is an ongoing audition to stay in the inner circle. She’s managed to skate by as a loving, available wife, but now her husband is demanding that she join them in their favorite pastime, playing God in the life of an unsuspecting person.
Demi is on the opposite end of Lyla’s socioeconomic spectrum. She’s young, homeless, and desperate. When a series of unexpected events lands her in the upscale apartment of a rich techie woman she grabs the chance to assume another life and, more importantly, have a place to sleep and food to eat. What she doesn’t know is that the woman is renting the place from Lyla and Graham and that she’s the next lab rat in their social experiment. So begins a game of cat and rat as Lyla seeks to learn more about their new tenant in order to find a way to crush her and the unknowing Demi seeks only to stay safe and anonymous.
By allowing both Lyla and Demi to narrate Good Rich People in the first person author Liza Brazier creates a dichotomous landscape that is riveting. Lyla’s ennui, entitlement, and sharply dry humor are in stark contrast to Demi’s street-smart, survivor mindset, culled from a childhood of deprivation. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that both women are prisoners. Each thinks they want what the other has without having any real idea of the truth.
If you’re not a fan of mind games or drama, then Good Rich People will not be appealing. For me, the premise is wonderfully absurdist, to the point of feeling fantastical…but is it? People with so much money they can do anything they want and yet they’re bored. So bored that coming up with a game to ruin other people’s lives is exciting. Brazier inhabits the tone and voice of these dark, listless characters in a way that provokes embarrassed laughter. She unfurls a plot that is as labyrinthine as the grounds of Margo’s garden then neatly mows through it in a ghoulishly satisfying ending.
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