All The Single Ladies might work for you if (1) you can stand 300+ pages of (upper) middle-age women supposedly enjoying their singlehood but in fact actively hunting for Mr. Good-Enough (they seem to have given up looking for Mr. Right) (2) you do not mind said ladies’ brains, fairly ditzy to benign with, becoming completely withered and non-functioning while in the presence of men and (3) you can accept their equating good manners and goodness, period. And be prepared for flows of alcohol and vows of “dieting”, repeatedly broken. They do not seem to know that there are calories in alcohol, or carbs!
I would forgive all of the above if the book were funny, but it’s not. You have been warned.
Val and Addie were friends once, in elementary school, but Val left Addie behind in high school as she moved into the popular people clique and Addie ate herself into an enormous body. Fifteen years later, Addie has a nice house, a good job, and a thin body, while Val may well have killed someone. So in a befuddling non-sequitur Addie flees with Val to escape the police (makes no sense to me either!) The police is a smart and lonely police chief who effortlessly figures out the entire sequence of events — and to whom good, predictable things will happen in the end. The descriptions of the house read like a bad women’s magazine, or perhaps real estate ads, the secondary characters are even more two-dimensional than the main ones. And the book is fun, breathless, and won’t load up your brain too much.
Two self-involved, vacuous women who happen to be sisters in law set out to mistreat their husband and lover, respectively and bumble about until they get what’s coming to them, more or less. They are so inane and self-centered that I started rooting for the husband after a couple of chapters, even if he starts out as a mean control freak. Then in the middle of the book he undergoes an abrupt conversion to semi-sainthood during a New Age sweat lodge ceremony (the only really funny part of the book) and at that point I really wanted him to get rid of his wife and his sister as well.
The author displays a solid knowledge of the intricacies of the Los Angeles real estate and expensive French couture, ad nauseam, although her French could once again stand a good native reviewer (as argued before.)
This One Is Mine is a good reminder that chick lit is not as effortless or effort-free as the good one makes it seem. I hope this first novel remains single.
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?