The Barnacle sisters--Bell, Bridget, Benita, Beryl, Belinda and Beth--have been raised by their eccentric, self-made father in a fabulous, gigantic Fifth Avenue apartment that, encrusted with Barry Barnacle's scientific collections, feels like a little piece of the Museum of Natural History transplanted to the other side of Central Park. Now that most of the sisters have come of age, Barry Barnacle proposes a contest, a test of wits and wills that should at long last settle what is to Barry the most essential of all questions: nature, or nurture? Whichever of his daughters can most spectacularly carry on his name will inherit his fortune; the others are out cold.
It's a proposition to set a Jane Austen heroine on her ear, but the Barnacle girls are up to the challenge. Throw the girls' mother Bella and their childhood crushes--the Finch twins next door--into the mix and the stage is set for a completely inventive and utterly fresh social comedy that is as beautifully written as it is unique.
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Galt Niederhoffer started her own film production company in her early twenties, and has produced three award-winning Sundance movies. She lives in New York City.
*Starred Review* Charles Darwin studied barnacles before he used the Galapagos finch to illustrate his theory of evolution, a fact first-time novelist Niederhoffer parlays into a delightfully clever and romantic screwball comedy. Her Barnacles are an eccentric and well-off Manhattan family ensconced in an enormous apartment facing Central Park and bursting with natural--history collections. It's a hectic household, what with Barry, the droll and manipulative patriarch; his loopy ex-wife, Bella, who lives upstairs with Latrell, her adopted African American son; Bunny, Barry's current wife; and six headstrong daughters, all with names beginning with B. The Finches live next door, and romantic confusion ensues between the at-loose-ends twentysomething identical Finch twins, Billy and Blaine, and the two oldest Barnacle sisters, Bridget and Bell, who are similarly adrift, antics that elicit much ire from the quirky younger Barnacles. Then, as if life in his daffy kingdom wasn't contentious enough, Barry initiates a contest that throws his competitive if dysfunctional daughters into a frenzy. A filmmaker before she became a novelist, Niederhoffer pays sparkling homage to fairy tales, King Lear, Austen, and Nora Ephron in this charming and sly spoofing of the concept of the survival of the fittest, and the nature-versus-nurture debate. Donna Seaman
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