What do we expect from chick lit? A lively story, a peppy heroin, assorted outrageous characters, and a happy ending — and for that we will tolerate unlikely coincidences, abundant stereotyping, and a breezy writing style. Manless in Montclair meets the challenge fairly well but the author would have been more successful if she had stuck with the widowed Isabel looking for a replacement dad for her daughters rather than bringing in the story of her courtship with her now dead and beloved husband. One book, one story.
She also gets some of the details wrong, which gets in the way of enjoying the story. I don’t know much about working in PR but I do know about running a business from a spare bedroom, and it just doesn’t make sense that she would get wildly successful right as she is coping with her husband’s death. (And why would she hire two employees? Reasonable home-based businesses use contractors, not employees.)
Nevertheless the story is enjoyable including details such as Isabel’s housing her shoe collection in the bathroom. I guess living in a small apartment makes you look at storage in a new, liberated way…
If you want irrepressible, consistent laughs in chick lit format, try instead the classic Bridget Jones’s Diary or I don’t know How She Does It, a hilarious book about juggling work and motherhood. Now that I think of it, perhaps the Brits hold the secrets to great chick lit?