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Book Review

'The Clasp' Is a True Original


Book reviewer Sarah Bagby says a new novel pays tribute to earlier work, but still manages to be a true original.

Sloane Crosley has been a book publicist (she coined the phrase “Oprah Effect”), a columnist (she was a founder of the New York Times' townie op/ed column), a Warby Parker model, a songwriter, a bestselling author of two collections of essays and a finalist for the Thurber Prize for humor writing. Like Crosley herself, her first novel, The Clasp, is an original.

The characters in The Clasp are the kind of people you befriend: smart, worldly, a little lost, and close enough to be simultaneously annoyed with and dependent on each other. Victor, Kezia and Nathaniel charm us with their witty repartee, their kind vulnerability and their humanity.

The Clasp opens at the first wedding in the circle of close college friends. Graduation was long enough ago for some to be on their chosen career path, and others to be floundering in their field, still not secure in their post college identity. At the reunion in Florida, it’s clear that he loves her, but she loves him, and so on. Victor, keeping the loss of his job to himself, stumbles onto the mystery of a stolen estate necklace. What follows is a caper: Victor searches for the necklace as he struggles with the direction his life should go.

Crosley is a keen observer of 21st-century manners and has an uncanny eye for details and the lives of ordinary people who become extraordinary in her nimble hands. She is a born novelist every bit as much as she is a born essayist. The Clasp is an original, modern day 19th-century novel, a tribute to the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, that can claim its place alongside Jane Austen.