Book Review: This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

5 Aug

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper)

Pub date: 2 August 2011

Source: Publisher


The Bergamots have moved from Ithaca, New York to Manhattan so that Richard can pursue a brilliant job opportunity. His wife Liz and their son Jake miss their old life and are struggling a little to fit in and stay happy. Liz has not only given up her career as an art historian, she is running herself ragged driving their 5-year old daughter Coco from school to classes to parties.  Jake receives a sexually explicit video from a 13-year old girl  and forwards it to a friend. Soon the video goes viral – Jake, his family and the girls are caught in the middle of a horrible scandal.


Liz and Richard spare no effort to make sure that their children Jake and Coco get everything they never had. While Richard is completely focused on succeeding, Liz is trying hard to be there for both her children. Liz has a PhD and she’s frustrated about having to give up her career so that she can support Richard in his. 

While they are all struggling to come to terms with this new city life, something happens that blows their lives completely out of the water.

This Beautiful Life is a short book packs a punch and gets you thinking about how a small thoughtless moment can have such terrible consequences. From laughing at some unfortunate youngster who’s designed an aesthetic horror of a website to a much more serious sexting, our lives today have made it all too easy to share private communication.

Jake is a good person and immediately realizes that what he’s done is wrong. He’s both the victim and the perpetrator in this drama and this moment of bad decision-making will plague him throughout his life.

Told from the point of view of Liz, Jake and Richard, this is a ripped-from-the-headlines story and a cautionary tale.


Highly recommended for anyone who likes realistic contemporary tales.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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One Response to “Book Review: This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman”


  1. Bid and Win This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman this October | Freado Blog - September 28, 2011

    […] Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog […]

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