Today for Lunch Lit we have a Penelope excerpt from Rebecca Harrington. Prep meets The Marriage Plot in this uproarious debut novel, a send-up of campus life starring one singularly unprepared, socially maladroit, charmingly clueless freshman named Penelope.
When Penelope O’Shaughnessy arrives on the Harvard campus she is amazed: she has never seen such a vast and majestic Au Bon Pain. She has also never met anyone like her fellow freshmen. Everyone is overwhelmed and overworked, striving to get into the right social clubs and frantically pulling all-nighters at the library–and classes haven’t even begun. Penelope’s roommates aren’t exactly what she had hoped for (Emma is a social climber intent on punching The Pudding, while Lan is a misanthrope who paints her room black). Meanwhile, her “Images of Shakespeare” class mostly involves angry discussions over whether or not the Bard was overweight; the dorm room “pre-game” sessions never lead to a real game; and the aristocratic upperclassman she has admired from afar never eats in the freshman dining hall, where she might woo him alongside the make-your-own waffle bar. When Penelope finds herself roped into a production of Camus’s Caligula, she begins to worry that her entire college experience is starting to resemble an absurdist play. A laugh-out-loud depiction of college life, Penelope announces the arrival of a deliriously funny new writer.
“Every page of this hilarious and charming book made me laugh out loud!” –Jennifer Close, author of Girls in White Dresses
Rebecca Harrington is a 26-year-old staff writer for The Huffington Post who studied English at Harvard and journalism at Columbia. Penelope is her first novel.