A Review of The Wentworths by Katie Arnoldi

12/01/2008

A Disease Called Desire.

Growing up in Beverly Hills isn’t exactly my idea of a culture-rich adolescence and I guess that is why people are shocked when I admit that for thirteen years I too was trapped in the Beverly Hills Triangle, the sister Triangle known for swallowing the souls of otherwise productive members of society.

Beverly Hills can consume you if you let it, and it will, trust me.  It did for the Wentworths; Becky, Judith, Gus and more shockingly- Conrad and it is on a constant prowl for others. It will consume the very core of your human development and cause great delusions of superfluous and (seemingly) necessary desire. Unbeknownst to the victim’s conscious mind, these delusions can cause the misconception that things will fill voids and mend vulnerabilities. Each of the characters in The Wentworths’ subconscious minds seeks to fill voids by obsessing about their own desires.

The Wentworths, by Katie Arnoldi, is a novel of desire that goes far beyond the daily recommended dose.  The Wentworths’ desire runs their lives into the ground. Conrad’s desire for wealth and women, Judith’s yearning for perfection, and in contrast, Paul’s desire for normality.

In order for her to create the only reality she can exist in, Judith Wentworth must control anything and everything within her reach. Like most aging, posh and menopausal women of the Beverly Hills region, perfection is key. Her existence is based around the need for everything to be flawless.

Judith Wentworth spends more time looking in the mirror than she does communicating with the world around her. She analyzes, she studies, she improves (Arnoldi 14). In order to escape the fact that her picture-perfect family is not so picture perfect, Judith focuses on her appearance and leaves everything else on the backburner.

Inevitably so, this mindset creates dissonance between what is reality and what we create to be our own reality. In comparison, the media promotes this lifestyle by airing shows like The Hills and The Real Housewives of the O.C. The women in these shows are far more concerned with their fabricated reality than reality itself.

Contrary to popular belief, women are not the only ones affected by the Beverly Hills Triangle. It is widely known that cultures like those seen in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills foster the growth of shallow, distracted and pretentious individuals; even in men. Conrad Wentworth is the perfect specimen.

Conrad has a constant desire to fill the shoes that his mother never fit in to, but instead of finding a woman that could do so, he found young girls and sexually promiscuous women that all had a striking resemblance to Judith.  In order to get the amount of attention he needed, he got involved with girls that were unstable and overly attentive to him. His need for this attention ends up getting him in deep. 6 feet deep.

Conrad will go to great lengths for wealth. This includes knowingly defending guilty rapists and murderers because they have the money to pay him. Conrad is a real famous attorney. Thirteen year-old accuses a rap star of rape?  Conrad can probably get him off. It’s gonna cost, but that’s what money’s for.  (Arnoldi 16) The lifestyle he lives is that of a morally bankrupt individual.

In contrast to the moral bankruptcy, feeble attempts at perfect and hunger for affluence, Paul Jones is the example of an individual not yet corrupted by the Beverly Hills Triangle of doom. He desires in a healthy way, and desires healthy things.

Throughout the novel, Paul plays the role of the moral rock. Steady and logical (and obviously undamaged), he becomes the voice of reason. Paul recognizes that the realities of life would make Becky angry so he deals with them himself.  An example of this is when he finds, hidden in the mattress, things any normal boy might hide.

Paul’s desires consist of those things any unaffected individual might desire; a dog, a happy family and a healthy wife who has long given up the habit of popping sleeping pills to escape.

It is hard to believe that any one individual could remain untouched by such surroundings, but it is not an unreasonable idea.  Growing up and living in Beverly Hills really is a triangle similar to the Bermuda Triangle; before you know it, you have been consumed and it is a hard comeback to achieve.

The Wentworth’s constant desire is a disease that affects many. I have seen it first hand and could have easily fallen into the triangle.  With a lot of introspection and world-traveling,  I was able to pull myself out before it became too late. Reading The Wentworths by Katie Arnoldi was as close to reading the biography of life-long neighbors, only this time it was easier to shut the book and walk away.  The real housewives of the O.C. really have nothing on The Wentworths; and to be honest, they should be proud.