What better way to celebrate the remaining days of 2018 than by revisiting our favorite literary parties? There’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s take on Mrs. Dalloway and the dinner soirée, reimagined under the Donald Trump presidency. And, of course, who can forget Jay Gatsby’s infamous West Egg parties, which have inspired numerous high-school proms and costumed New Year’s shindigs.
That being said, not all fêtes are actually that fun: The author Alexander Chee explains how one scene in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette made him consider just how useful parties are for exploring a character’s anxieties and insecurities. Such is the case for Mary Bennet, of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the oft-ignored and criticized Bennet sister. While readers may remember the Netherfield ball for Elizabeth Bennet’s tense (yet titillating) encounter with Mr. Darcy or Jane Bennet’s budding romance with Mr. Bingley, Mary’s story line that night is one of searing, public humiliation. And in Sean Ferrell’s Man in the Empty Suit, a lonely time-traveler hosts rather unconventional birthday parties: one where he visits his past and future selves, in the same spot, every year.
Each week in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas, and ask you for recommendations of what our list left out.
Check out past issues here, see what other Atlantic newsletter readers said were their favorite books of this year, and browse Atlantic writers’ and editors’ picks for the best books of 2018.
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What We’re Reading
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway gets a political remake
“[Chimamanda Ngozi] Adichie blends blunt, harvested-from-media-profiles observations about Trump—‘Donald disliked dissent’—with subtler, more intimate observations that come from Melania’s point of view.”