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by Sarah Strohmeyer
HarperCollins, April 2023
368 pages
ISBN: 0063224380

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sarah Strohmeyer's WE LOVE TO ENTERTAIN is a funny comedy about reality television, social media, and real-estate narcissists, in which some of those types end up dead. Okay, it's billed as a psychological thriller, and it's certainly thrilling, with twists that turn on the characters' aberrant yet recognizable psychology. Those details won't prevent anyone from experiencing it as a delightful social satire.

Erika is a chipper assistant to a house-flipper reality show being shot in her liberal yet sleepy Vermont village. She assists the local house-flipper couple: scuzzy real estate "robber baron" Rob Barron (no, his middle initials aren't E. and R.) and his perfect wife-to-be Holly. They got an eighty-acre orchard for a song, with a house thrown in, because an unfortunate local couple fell behind on their property taxes. Now, they're turning it into a smugly eco-conscious McMansion. Also, the wedding is timed to nearly coincide with the Big Reveal.

This is a lot for Erika to handle--and that's before she's wrongly accused of lusting after Rob. Her mother, the town clerk, discovers some interesting procedural anomalies, and the show's social media fandom turn into a baying mob.

The toxic cesspit called Reddit's reactions to various real-world murders have raised questions about the point at which such communities' discussion of current events begins to impact those events. That's absolutely the threat in WE LOVE TO ENTERTAIN.

The title hints at that dynamic. Holly and Rob plan to throw a (wedding) party at their flipper house, but they also love to entertain their army of fans, and that can be very dangerous--and not only for the two of them.

Strohmeyer handles all this with an innovative writing style, shifting between Erika's perspective and that of various other characters, but revealing Rob and Holly's perspectives only through their carefully constructed social media postings--which are about as honest as one might expect from the Robber Baron and his camera-ready Maid Marian.

If you like comedy, or hate real estate, or want to throw your television through an eco-friendly double-paned shatterproof PlexiGlass window, you'll love WE LOVE TO ENTERTAIN.

Rebecca Nesvet is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and co-edits Reviewing the Evidence.

Reviewed by Rebecca Nesvet, April 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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