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Golden Hour Books

A Gorgeous Excitement: A Novel by Cynthia Weiner (1/21/25)

A Gorgeous Excitement: A Novel by Cynthia Weiner (1/21/25)

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A dazzling debut novel set in 1980s New York, when cocaine is as easy to get as ice cream, about one young woman’s summer of infinite possibility—and looming danger.

It was the summer of 1986, when the girl was found dead in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum—half-naked, legs splayed, arms flung over her head.

There are two things Nina Jacobs is determined to do over the summer of 1986: avoid her mother’s depression-fueled rages, and lose her virginity before she starts college in the fall. Unfortunately both are seemingly impossiblewhen her mother isn't lying in bed for days, she's manically up and about, incensed by any perceived slight. And after a blowjob gone spectacularly wrong, Nina is the talk of Flanagan’s, the bar where Manhattan’s private school kids hang out. It doesn't help that she's also Jewish, an outsider in a world of blue-eyed blonde girls who populate New York’s rarified Upper East Side.

But at Flanagan's, Nina can fit in, kind of—with enough alcohol and prescription drugs stolen from her parents’ medicine cabinet. Flanagan's is where she pines over the handsome, preppy, and charismatic Gardner Reed, who every girl wants to sleep with and every guy wants to be. Emboldened by cocaine, Nina plunges headlong into her pursuit of Gardner, and when he starts paying attention back, it seems like she might finally get what she wants. But at what cost? Freud called a cocaine high “a gorgeous excitement” and, as Nina is about to learn, 1986 in New York is a deadly time and place to be gorgeous.

Set against the backdrop of a menacingly gritty Manhattan of the 1980s, Cynthia Weiner's debut is a timeless and universal story of a young woman trying to find her voice, and of the countless young women whose voices were silenced.

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