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A Selection of Reviews


Starred Review. In a funny, whip-smart memoir sure to be a sensation among Vogue and W devotees, erstwhile hair and makeup artist Tonello (now a columnist for chronicles a surprising (even to him!) trans-Atlantic move from Provincetown, R.I. to a city he'd fallen in love with on a short trip: Barcelona, where he knows no one and doesn't speak the language. Tonello's initial euphoria dissolves when his new job fails to materialize. To stay afloat, Tonello starts selling items on Ebay with startling results: his first, heart-racing success, a year-old $99 Polo scarf he sold for $430 to a Midwesterner ("I guess he really liked plaid") makes Tonello an instant believer in the resale capabilities of high-end luxury items. Thus his new trade, and his quest for the Birkin, the "it bag" of all time, famous for its impenetrable waiting list ("What do you mean the waiting list is closed? It's a waiting list. So I can't wait?"). After many failed attempts, Tonello plans a weekend drive to Madrid in search of the haute couture holy grail; the result is a both a hilarious raid on fashion's strongholds and a memoir that satisfies like a novel. Fashion die-hards, and many others, will be delighted from beginning to end. -Publishers Weekly


There are two unorthodox things about this summer's most adorable chick-lit book: It's a work of nonfiction, and it's written by a guy. Michael Tonello's ''Bringing Home the Birkin,'' the story of one man's relentless assault on the world's horsiest luxury-goods label, may break the mold a bit, but it does a fine job of fulfilling this genre's basic requirements. It's smart. It's fizzy. It's amusingly snarky, with attitude to burn. The genre's four basic food groups are ambition, romance, travel and partying, and Mr. Tonello dishily delivers (he adores alliteration) them all.

Even better, when its Tiffany-blue dust jacket is removed, ''Bringing Home the Birkin'' looks as if it's bound in Hermes crocodile. This is an expert feat of one-upmanship, since the most merchandise-minded beach books are hellbent on putting something either flauntable or edible on their covers.

Trumping the competition's graphics took ingenuity. After all, the flashiest beach book of the moment, Lauren Weisberger's ''Chasing Harry Winston,'' has cover art depicting diamond rings stacked on the super-high spike heel of an inexplicably hairy shoe. (Something very bad appears to have happened to a white pony.) That is the season's high-water mark for either wretched excess or fabulousness, depending on your point of view. But Mr. Tonello's antic memoir takes a more interesting view of consumer culture. And it has the rare advantage of being as much fun to read as it is to tote around. -Janet Maslin, The New York Times


“[A] memoir of . . . madcap travels, triumphs and humiliations. [Tonello] peels back the layers of pretension at the eminent design house. . . . Anyone who’s ever stepped into a luxury boutique and felt the sting of the doorman’s disapproval will find a hero in Tonello.” -Miami Herald


“Part comedy, part history, part treasure hunt, Michael Tonello’s memoir is a romping sociological inquiry. If you’re like me, you’ll be transfixed and wanting more!” -Tim Gunn


“The one-step, one-stop shop guide to buying a Birkin.” -Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post


“ [Tonello] reveals the key to scoring that Holy Grail of handbags in a clever memoir.” -Boston Herald


“In his peppy, addictive memoir . . . [Tonello] details the comical lengths to which he’s gone to snag hundreds of Birkins that he then sells (with a steep mark-up) on eBay.”


“The perfect, fluffy and fun beach read.”


“A witty and engaging retrospective on [Tonello’s] long career traipsing the globe as a purveyor of the Birkin bag.” -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


“[A] sunny memoir. . . . The prose is vivid, the tone lighthearted. Mr. Tonello comes off as the fantasy gay best friend immortalized in contemporary women’s fiction: sassy, plucky, optimistic—oh, and he can get you a Birkin.” -Wall Street Journal


“[A] memoir of . . . madcap travels, triumphs and humiliations. [Tonello] peels back the layers of pretension at the eminent design house. . . . Anyone who’s ever stepped into a luxury boutique and felt the sting of the doorman’s disapproval will find a hero in Tonello.”-(Miami Herald


“Tonello recounts the strange and serendipitous tale of how he went from cleaning out his closet to being one of the busiest Internet resellers of Birkin bags in the world.” -The Globe and Mail


#3 Boston Globe bestseller (Boston Globe)


“Fascinating. . . . The sassy and resourceful Tonello built a very lucrative eBay resale business from his apartment, specializing in Hermès scarves and the French luxury purveyor’s highly desired Birkin bag. It’s hard not to be swept up in his delightful one-man Birkin Brigades.” -Minneapolis Star Tribune


“A deliciously addictive true tale of continent-hopping, celebrity-schmoozing, and a crazy-like-a-fox quest for that Hermès “it” bag, the Birkin. Haute read, indeed.”


“This summer’s most adorable chick-lit book. . . . It’s smart. It’s fizzy. It’s amusingly snarky, with attitude to burn. ” -New York Times


“Hermès’ worst nightmare.” -New York Daily News


“I devoured, and adored Bringing Home the Birkin, the story of how one man turned the fashionable set’s obsession with Hermès’ signature handbag into a handsome, globe-trotting career.” (Jennifer Weiner, Author of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes)


“A deliciously quick nonfiction read.” -Charlotte Observer


“Funny, thrilling, chock-full of great cocktail-party stories told with the flair of a natural raconteur.” -"The Year in Books 2008," Chicago Center for Literature and Photography


“The fashion world is about to be handed its own Da Vinci Code with Bringing Home the Birkin.” -Maclean's


"The end of the world just inched a little nearer: an eBay seller has written a memoir. About handbags." - New York Times Book Review



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