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The God of Good Looks


The God of Good Looks

THE GOD OF GOOD LOOKS is the debut novel of Trinidadian writer Breanne Mc Ivor, who penned the short story collection WHERE THERE ARE MONSTERS.

Unlike most beautiful women, Bianca Bridge never dreamed of becoming a model. The product of a headstrong, independent mother and a self-made businessman father, Bianca was born with both brains and beauty, and she has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. In fact, her love of literature introduced her to her first love, Eric Hugo, a charming man she meets when they are seated at the same table in a coffee shop and begin to discuss their favorite books. Eric is intelligent, handsome and witty, but he has his downsides too: he’s very, very married, and his career as a government minister means that his affairs --- both personal and devious --- must remain private. Naturally, it is his relationship with Bianca that finds itself blasted across the tabloids.

"Entertaining, humorous and then jaw-droppingly poignant, THE GOD OF GOOD LOOKS is a smart, cleverly crafted debut that manages to both delight with its portrayals of the beauty industry and shock with its searingly current observations on class and the patriarchy."

Before she knows it, Bianca is not-so-graciously cast out of almost every polite society function, career opportunity and friendship she ever thought she had. With her mother long dead and her father distant and unreliable, she is left with nearly nothing. When we meet Bianca, she is barely wearing anything and is draped across yet another uncomfortable set, posing for Carmichael, a photographer who actually treats her like a human being despite how often she is turned aside and looked down upon. Enter the God of Good Looks.

In the makeup, modeling and beauty industries, no name carries weight like that of Obadiah Cortland, a Gordon Ramsey-esque beauty mogul whose publication, Extempo, highlights the hottest and newest trends in Trinidadian fashion, beauty and popular culture. On paper, he’s impressive. In person, he’s even more so: dazzlingly handsome and perfectly coiffed and…incredibly mean and rude to Bianca? Bianca has become accustomed to people gossiping about her or turning away when she enters a room, but never before has a man been so outright cruel to her, only to turn around and offer her a job as his personal assistant and content editor.

A proud woman herself, Bianca is quick to turn him down. But as her opportunities continue to dry up as a result of the fallout from her affair and yet another seedy photographer tries to put the moves on her, she figures that Extempo may be her chance to put her brains and beauty to work. Who cares what Obadiah “The God of Good Looks” Cortland has to say about it?

Alternating between smart, self-aware and snappy diary entries written by Bianca and first-person chapters told through Obadiah's perspective, Mc Ivor tells a powerful redemption story about two hardscrabble, brilliant creators and their battle against class, the patriarchy, growth and the commodification of beauty. As readers come to realize, even Obadiah was born not with a silver spoon in his mouth and a silk scarf on his wrist (a trademark of his), but to one of Trinidad’s poorest, most dangerous neighborhoods. Like Bianca, he has used his beauty and curation of beauty as a shield to rise up in the ranks of Trinidad’s elite. But rather than catapulting him to the top, his journey has only highlighted how wide the divide is between Trinidad’s haves and have-nots.

As Bianca and Obadiah form a careful, tense friendship, they also begin to challenge one another to do --- and believe --- better. However, just as they (and Extempo) seem to be on the rise, Bianca’s past comes in like a wrecking ball to take them all down. It will take a good, hard look at their own resources --- including, most surprisingly, Bianca’s own privilege --- as well as the faith they’ve found in themselves and one another to weather the storm being laid at their feet. In the end, though, Bianca will prove that she is nothing if not her mother’s daughter.

Entertaining, humorous and then jaw-droppingly poignant, THE GOD OF GOOD LOOKS is a smart, cleverly crafted debut that manages to both delight with its portrayals of the beauty industry and shock with its searingly current observations on class and the patriarchy. Although the novel is perfectly situated in Trinidad, with all of the vivid details, mouth-watering food descriptions, beauty standards and ripped-from-the-headlines subplots to back it up, it inspires universal questions that will help even the most landlocked readers find something to relate to. That Bianca’s emotional arc culminates in an ironic twist that calls attention to her own privileged upbringing is brilliant, and Mc Ivor demonstrates it beautifully. The connection between truth and victory is on perfect display, and it makes for an ending that satisfies as much as it educates.

Although the narrative can drag or meander at times, Mc Ivor proves herself a worthy, talented writer. Readers will appreciate how she mixes the glamorous with the destitute, the humorous with the powerful, and, above all, the characters of Bianca and Obadiah…who likely would tell you that they couldn’t be more different, whatever Mc Ivor has to say about it.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 3, 2023

The God of Good Looks
by Breanne Mc Ivor

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0063278820
  • ISBN-13: 9780063278820