Crosley has achieved a rare feat: a complex and clever work of homage that deepens the original by connecting it to contemporary life. The Clasp is a gentle, astute, funny, smart, and very entertaining book. But is it sad enough? Not nearly.
Several links in the book's narrative chain are so clanky they weigh heavily on our willing suspension of disbelief. On the one hand, things happen incredibly fast...while on the other, with the drag of tedious flashbacks to college and dissolute Los Angeles parties, it takes hundreds of pages to get everyone to France, where we knew they were headed from the get-go.
The book betrays a similar uneasiness in its own skin. Hence the mild case of first novel–itis: a reliance on symbols (the lost necklace), foils (de Maupassant), motifs (the short story), and genre tropes, not to mention cataracts of occasionally unnecessary plot.
The book’s delicious humor and whirlwind plot help the book’s harshest medicine — important-but-sad epiphanies of life’s truths, both beautiful and cold — taste far more enjoyable than it would if delivered by a less-funny writer.
In the midst of all this philosophizing, The Clasp manages to be a warm and funny romp. Crosley built her name on trenchant analysis of modern foibles, and she lives up to her reputation here. The parodies of Victor’s tech office, Nathaniel’s LA scenester life, and Kezia’s dilapidated-chic jewelry company are precise and pointed; the characterization is as tight as a drum ... At times it is an inelegant book by a very smart and talented writer. But this is a symptom of first-novel-itis, one that I fully expect to disappear in Crosley’s next novel.