book cover of The Portrait of a Mirror

The Portrait of a Mirror

A novel by

A stunning reinvention of the myth of Narcissus as a modern novel of manners, about two young, well-heeled couples whose parallel lives intertwine over the course of a summer, by a sharp new voice in fiction
Wes and Diana are the kind of privileged, well-educated, self-involved New Yorkers you may not want to like but can't help wanting to like you. With his boyish good looks, blue-blood pedigree, and the recent tidy valuation of his tech startup, Wes would have made any woman weak in the knees—any woman, that is, except perhaps his wife. Brilliant to the point of cunning, Diana possesses her own arsenal of charms, handily deployed against Wes in their constant wars of will and rhetorical sparring.
Vivien and Dale live in Philadelphia, but with ties to the same prep schools and management consulting firms as Wes and Diana, they’re of the same ilk. With a wedding date on the horizon and carefully curated life of coupledom, Vivien and Dale make a picture-perfect pair on Instagram. But when Vivien becomes a visiting curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art just as Diana is starting a new consulting project in Philadelphia, the two couples’ lives cross and tangle. It’s the summer of 2015 and they’re all enraptured by one another and too engulfed in desire to know what they want—despite knowing just how to act.
In this wickedly fun debut, A. Natasha Joukovsky crafts an absorbing portrait of modern romance, rousing real sympathy for these flawed characters even as she skewers them. Shrewdly observed, whip-smart, and shot through with wit and good humor, The Portrait of a Mirror is a piercing exploration of narcissism, desire, self-delusion, and the great mythology of love.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"I can’t stop thinking about A. Natasha Joukovsky’s characters. I want to be friends with them, and drink too many Bloody Marys with them; I’m also terrified of what they’d say about me behind my back. The Portrait of a Mirror is a wickedly fun debut—a novel that floats seamlessly between Ovid and dive bars, and that shows us the perils of getting exactly what we want." - Grant Ginder

"The Portrait of a Mirror is part sex comedy, part satire about the world’s most hatable people. Joukovsky is unsparing—and hilarious—on the topics of marriage, success, and the self-absorption of the privileged class. Like overhearing a deliciously awful conversation at a Manhattan restaurant." - Erin Somers

"The Portrait of a Mirror is an absolute delight: an intellectually dazzling, deliciously wicked novel about love, art, illusion, and modernity—not to mention a pitch-perfect satire of New York’s beautiful people. I devoured it in a state of ecstatic thrall, feeling quite as hypnotized and insatiable as Narcissus himself, and not the least bit sorry about it." - Emily Temple

"This contemporary novel of manners is so sly and sharp and well-observed, so densely witty and full of piercing offhand observation: there’s a world of pleasure in the intellectual force and formidable voice of A. Natasha Joukovsky’s debut. As a not-quite-love story about deceptive infatuation, The Portrait of a Mirror is both rich with indulgence and caustic with spiraling self-knowledge; it’s a macaron that might be hiding a razor blade, ready to be devoured nonetheless." - Jia Tolentino

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