Covergirl: Confessions of a Flawed Hedonist

Covergirl: Confessions of a Flawed Hedonist

by Maura Moynihan


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Maura Moynihan's first novel, Covergirl, blends reality and fiction in a brilliant and exciting roman à clef that draws richly from the author's own adventures as a Warhol Girl and from her many years of working with Tibetan refugees in Asia.

A sparkling follow-up to her bestselling story collection Yoga Hotel, Covergirl introduces Veronica Ferris, the daughter of an imperious socialite and a kindly but absent diplomat. Fresh out of college, Veronica lands in Manhattan in pursuit of romance, disco, and rock 'n' roll—an arrival that threatens to usurp her mother's ambitious assault on New York high society. Maintaining her "double life" as a talented partygoer and a bearer of the esteemed Ferris family name is a high-wire act that requires far more cunning and restraint than young Veronica initially realizes.

One night, Veronica's rebellious charm attracts the attention of John Penn, an eccentric, celebrated artist, and her fame explodes when Penn makes her his new Page magazine covergirl. Catapulted into the celebrity-god realm, she has a secret affair with the white-hot rock star Davey Name—who is "lithe, mean, ruthless, utter perfection." But when they're exposed while shooting a music video in Paris, Veronica takes the advice of the deeply mysterious and deadly handsome Mr. Norbu, a Tibetan gem dealer, who invites her to Kathmandu to volunteer at his orphanage.

Back in Asia, the land of her "magical childhood," where she had lived during her father's diplomatic postings, Veronica befriends an old Tibetan refugee named Auntie Lhanzom, who has escaped to Nepal after years of imprisonment in a Chinese labor camp. When members of a Free Tibet group attempt to exploit Auntie Lhanzom as their own "covergirl" and all hell breaks loose as a result of a cultural misunderstanding, Veronica recognizes the parallels between her two worlds, and somehow finds her way home.

With its unforgettable heroine and wry, highly entertaining voice, Covergirl is at once a poignant coming-of-age tale, a delightful social satire, and a vibrant modern-day odyssey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060756604
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/24/2007
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Maura Moynihan has worked for many years as a refugee consultant in India and Nepal, inspired in part by her childhood residence in Asia as the daughter of a U.S. ambassador. Andy Warhol launched her musical career and placed her on the coveted cover of Interview magazine. Her first collection of fiction, Yoga Hotel, was a Washington Post bestseller. This is her first novel. She lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt


Confessions of a Flawed Hedonist
By Maura Moynihan

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Maura Moynihan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060756578

Chapter One

Happy Birthday, Winston

Veronica stepped into the golden-pink glow of the Park Legend lobby, walked past the cocktail terrace with the gigantic flowers, around the statues of Artemis and Athena, through the swarms of tourists and conventioneers and luggage trolleys, to the entrance of the Tower Apartments. She halted, ducked into the ladies' lounge, locked the door, and bent over the sink to splash cold water on her face and neck. She had miscalculated the strength of her morning hangover, blithely assuming that by now it would've politely taken its leave; but no, it wanted to go to the party too.

Veronica surveyed the information in the full-length mirror: her short skirt barely covering the rip in her left stocking, her right jacket lapel crumpled, her hair three days overdue for a shampoo. Helena, her mother, would notice, but there was no turning back now. She leaned closer for one last perusal, searching for her reliable escape hatch . . . ah yes, there it was, thanks be to God, her natural beauty, weirdly aglow, hangover notwithstanding. Neither anxiety, sleep deprivation, nor alcohol overdose could deplete it. She swallowed three aspirins, applied vermillion lipstick, repositioned the run inher left stocking, and marched resolutely toward the Towers.

The elevator ascended through the 20s, 30s, 40s, and into the 50s, where her new extended family residence was on proud display. Veronica's father, Winston Ferris, had recently been named something of note at UNICEF, the UN's last bastion of uber-WASP patrician elders, and with the new job came an exclusive residence in the Park Legend Towers. As diplomats, the Ferris family had for years perpetually shuttled from city to hotel to VIP lounge, but the Park Legend was the Mona Lisa of transit shelters. It functioned as an independent city-state amid midtown's roaring chaos; it housed visiting heads of state and had the best security, ballrooms, state rooms, restaurants, cafes, shops--and probably hookers and smugglers--collected under one vast, video-monitored roof. And for its bright new citizens, Winston and Helena Ferris, lifelong ambitions were now fulfilled; Winston had UNICEF and Helena had the crown jewel of real estate with an attendant five-star hotel staff. And so Winston's birthday had become one of the most exorbitant of the season's power-mingling rituals.

The elevator opened; Veronica stepped into the cheerful thunder of talk and drink that spilled into the long, salmon-orange hallway. Veronica saw Winston's pink-and-white head bobbing above the crowd. Her own head was not cooperating, so she grabbed a gin and tonic and raised the glass to her lips, when she caught sight of Helena's new bronze power helmet, every hair lacquered firmly into place; the oversized sparkling earrings (her trademark accessory), the long neck emerging from between bony shoulders; the moon-white, wrinkle-free skin, and the rest of her expensively maintained body encased in a silver taffeta tube that was supposed to be a dress . . . yes, the vast, swarming apparition loomed and approached. Tonight Helena was declaring her sovereignty over the upper tiers of Manhattan as she whirled magisterially about her new apartment, and it was scary as hell. Veronica momentarily considered fleeing, but Helena's antennae instantly identified the presence of a child, late and improperly attired.

"Young lady, what have you done to your hair?"

Curiosity had recently prompted Veronica to dye her long, chestnut-red hair jet black. Bad timing. "Why Mom, does it look different?"

"It's like you poured shoe polish on it. It looks terrible."

A man sidled up to Helena, winding his arm around her waist, and suddenly she was all effervescent grace, bending and dipping to tap a cigarette over an ashtray and tilting her ear to his confidential whisper. Veronica planted herself between the curtains and the buffet table to study the crowd. So here paraded two hundred of the world's wealthiest and most successful people, whose self-worth and happiness hinged on whether or not they got invited to a birthday party. It was a definite coup for the New Helena, who deployed party invitations to avenge grudges, solidify alliances, and commandeer useful new talent.

The New Helena's parties were a reliable index of which professions were currently fashionable. Helena had grown very fond of CEOs of late, and politicians were back on her list after a long absence, as were writers. Veronica's gaze glided toward a famous anchorman who was making a camera-worthy entrance. She had recently nursed a hangover staring dumbly at his nightly newscast, so seeing him in three-dimensional kinesis was weirdly disorienting. Even in the flesh, he didn't appear mortal; it was as if a marketing analyst had mixed the iconographic needs of the average American television viewer to come up with a successful fusion of prototypes, such as an insurance salesman who got fan mail. His wife, petite, blonde, and pink, was thoroughly perfumed, sanitized, and hygienically sealed. She was obviously the type of female who had never gone a day without mouthwash, deodorant, and hairspray. Veronica's habits would have horrified her.

Veronica also noticed several literary party fixtures in the crowd, now that Helena was an author again, with a cookbook entitled American Flavors Far From Home that had recently scored an undeserved two-page spread in Vogue. There was the feared and admired Jock Krispy, the once-prolific novelist willingly corrupted by celebrity, whose eyebrows writhed and bobbed beneath a tortured contrivance that suggested hair. And there warbled Irvy Wall, the renowned journalist and elevator lech. Irvy, you see, sensibly seized opportunity when it presented itself. Irvy was busy chatting up ballet-spinster/publishing heiress Bitsy Whipplair, a favorite lunch partner of Helena's who was similarly encased in a creepy tube that was supposed to be a dress.

Irvy and Bitsy were joined by Dolly Seabrook, Helena's tennis partner, a terrifying riot of color--yellow hair, orange lips, turquoise blouse, magenta suit--who readily believed it when anyone told her she looked ravishing. Dolly began flirting with Arno Slipper, a Wall . . .


Excerpted from Covergirl by Maura Moynihan Copyright © 2006 by Maura Moynihan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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