Loos, Anita. “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: the Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady.” Grosset & Dunlap, 1925.
This was a positively silly book and it almost embarrassed me to be reading it. Luckily, it was incredibly short (less than 200 pages) so I was able to get through it in one weekend. It is the journal of Lorelei Lee, a Midwest girl making her way in the New York City with gal pal Dorothy. Lorelei’s idea of making her way is to see how many men she can charm into “educating” her with their wallets. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is Lorelei’s diary from March 16th to July 10th and chronicles (complete with spelling and grammatical errors) her trip to Paris, France and Europe beyond all the while juggling many different male suitors. She starts nearly every sentence with “So” to the point where it got on my nerves the way someone says “like” all the time (and not the “like” on FaceBook, although that can get annoying as well). Lorelei uses shopping as her weapon and is quite good at it. I had a few laugh out loud moments. My recommendation is to find the 195 version. The illustrations are priceless.
The line that made me know I was in trouble, “I mean I seem to be thinking practically all the time” (p 11). That’s on the first page of the book.
Reason read: Anita Loos was born on April 26th so I am reading Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as a Happy birthday to Loos.
Author fact: Anita Loos was also an actress. Too cool.
Book trivia: Every one knows of the movie version starring Marilyn Monroe, but did you know there was an earlier version from 1928? Obviously, it didn’t do as well.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Reads: Decade By Decade (1920s)” (p 176)
Duncan, Elizabeth. A Brush With Death.
A Brush with Death picks up where Cold Light of Mourning left off. We rejoin Penny Brannigan right after she has moved into her dear friend Emma’s cottage (Emma died in the earlier book). While cleaning and clearing out some of Emma’s belongings Penny comes across a secret Emma has kept for more than thirty years, a lesbian romance with an artist named Alys from Liverpool, England. The relationship was cut short when Emma’s beloved was killed by a hit and run driver. For years the death was ruled an accident until Penny uncovers clues indicating wicked foul play. Thus begins the mystery. Most of the same characters in Cold Light of Mourning return to help Penny solve the crime. I have to admit I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Cold Light of Mourning. I think it’s because Duncan’s main character Penny seemed to be a bit more of a busybody in this one. This one had more of a “Murder, She Wrote” feel than the other. What I appreciated the most was the continuation of a lot of details from the first book. Penny’s relationships with individuals as well as her standing in the community as the place to get a manicure. Her relationship with a boyfriend grows as does her business.
Favorite line, “We could never figure out if he leaned to the lavender” (p 237).
Reason read: to finish the “series” by Elizabeth Duncan.
Author fact: Do a Google search for Elizabeth Duncan and you get search results for a murderer. This is not that Elizabeth Duncan.
Book trivia: I wasn’t the only one who felt this “Brannigan tale” was a little predictable but I still liked it.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust to Go in the chapter called “Wales Welcomes You” (p 250).
December is a mixed bag. Kisa and I aren’t traveling anywhere (I think we did enough of that over the summer). We’ll get the tree today. I’ll spend the weekend humming Christmas tunes and decorating the crap out of the house. Not much else is planned except a lot of books, books, books. For starters I am reading a lot of continuations:
- Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan ~ a final book in the continuation of the series I started last month.
- The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan ~ this finishing the Good Thief series I started in October.
- Lives of the Painters… by Giorgio Vasari ~ this is the third (and penultimate) book in the series started in October
- Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers ~ this continues the series started with The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club…
Confession: a bunch of these books aren’t “series” per se. But, because they continue a story (same characters, continuation of plot) I wanted to read them in order, especially Chris Ewan.
For the honor of all things December:
- The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer ~ in honor of Hanukkah
- Women of the Raj by Margaret Macmillan ~ in honor of December being a really good time to visit India
- The Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova ~ in honor of the coldest day in Russia (12/31/76)
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegman ~ in honor of Iowa becoming a state in December
For the Early Review Program for LibraryThing I’m back to nonfiction: Drinking with Men by Rosie Schaap (I remembered her last name by thinking Schnapps). This looks really interesting because it isn’t someone’s sob story memoir about being an trapped and pathetic alcoholic.
And, lastly audio – I am planning to drive to work to the tune of Ross Macdonald’s The Galton Case.
So, there is it. Ten books. Ambitious of me, I know. The way I look at it I have ten days of vacation coming up with barely anything to do. I want to spend a great deal of time reading if nothing else.
Duncan, Elizabeth J. The Cold Light of Mourning. New york: Minotaur Books, 2009.
If you ignore the cliche title…
Cold Light of Mourning is one of those books where you are introduced to a slew of people right off the bat and, being a murder mystery, you want to remember every single one of them because you aren’t sure who is important to the plot and who isn’t. There is exceptional detail given to every single character as well and again, you want to remember it all in case there is a clue in there somewhere. Here are the first bunch of characters: Morwyn, niece of Mrs. Lloyd; Mrs. Evelyn Lloyd, regular customer of Peggy Brannigan, town manicurist; Emma Teasdale, deceased friend of Peggy, Meg Wynne Thompson, bride-to-be of Emyr Gruffydd; David Williams is best man to Emyr Gruffydd; Jennifer Sayles is maid of honor; Anne Davidson is a bridesmaid; Robbie Llewllyn is an usher; Philip Wightman is the funeral director; Reverend Thomas Evans is responsible for the Teasdale funeral and the Gruffydd wedding; Bronwyne is his wife. These are the people you meet in the first 25 pages of the book. By the end of the book you have met no less than 26 different characters (some important, others not so much).
So. You want to remember all these people (and more) because Meg Wynne goes missing on her wedding day, right after she gets a manicure. When she turns up murdered Peggy (remember her?) realizes the woman who came in to her have her nails done was not Meg Wynne. Thus begins the mystery. Who was the woman who had her nails done and what happened to Meg? Duncan takes us on a crazy ride. Her attempts to mislead us by introducing plausible murderers are feeble. I don’t think I am ruining the plot if I say neither the nurse nor hairdresser did it, but aside from that, it is definitely a fun read.
Reason read: Okay. So, this is a stretch. Let’s see if this makes sense: Cold Light of Mourning takes place in North Wales. Dylan Thomas was from Wales. Dylan Thomas died in November so I’m honoring Dylan Thomas by reading a book that takes place where he was from.
Author fact: Cold Light of Mourning is Elizabeth Duncan’s first book. She has a pretty interesting website as well.
Book trivia: Cold Light of Mourning is the first book in a series about manicurist Penny Brannigan.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust to Go in the chapter called “Wales Welcomes You” (p 250).
Berg, Elizabeth. Say When. Brilliance Audio on CD, 2003.
Elizabeth Berg captures the heart and soul of jilted husband Frank Griffin perfectly. Wait. Can a husband be jilted? Sure enough except most people prefer to write about the woman’s side of the story. When his wife Ellen announces she is in love with someone else (the mechanic from her automotive class) and wants a divorce Griffin (as he likes to be called) goes through all the typical myriad of emotions. His disbelief, anger, jealousy, sarcasm and sadness permeate his every waking moment. Refusing to give his wife a divorce or even move out of their house Griffin forces Ellen into a roommate relationship. He fluctuates between wanting to win her back and disbelieving he has to do anything of the sort. He has floated through the years of their marriage without a single thought to the sameness of their daily lives, the routine-ness of their relationship. He has been comfortable with the predictability of their days and never considered that Ellen might not share that opinion. Adding insult to injury she admits she doubts she ever loved him, even going so far as to say she knew they never should have gotten married in the first place. Ouch. I won’t spoil the end but I can say this, not everyone has agreed with these characters. I guess that’s what makes them real to me. We can’t like everything or everyone. Ellen’s character is particularly hard to like because she is so vague but that’s one of the things that makes her real in my opinion.
As I mentioned before, one of the most refreshing aspects of this book is that it is told from the man’s perspective and it’s the woman who had the affair. I think it goes to show you that men can be prone to jealousy and childish name calling (“Mr. Crank Shaft” was my favorite) just as much as a woman. The stereotypes have been further messed with when it’s revealed that Ellen is going out with a much younger man.
Reason read: this is going to sound bizarre but I chose Say When because I am celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary this month. Reading about a relationship in trouble makes me extremely grateful mine is solid, fun and loving!
Author fact: Elizabeth Berg won the New England Books Award in 1997.
Book trivia: According to Berg’s own website Say When was made into a television movie for CBS called “A Very Married Christmas.”
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Marriage Blues” (p 162).
Kinsella, Sophie. Confessions of a Shopaholic.New York: Random House, 2001.
Confessions of a Shopaholic was a pain in the ass to read. I never learned to like the lead character, Rebecca Bloomwood. When we first meet Becky she is living far beyond her means, recklessly spending money she does not have. She constantly lies to family, friends, coworkers, strangers, anyone who gets in her way of a good shopping spree. She is the epitome of irresponsible. As the debt continues to pile up and the phone calls and letters from credit card agencies and banks become more frequent Becky starts to make feeble, half-witted attempts to remedy the situation. She has her pride so she cannot admit to anyone she is in financial trouble, at least not right away. She also has the ability to rationalize every extravagant purchase.
As her situation worsens she remembers something her father once said about saving money. She first tries the tactic of Cutting Back. Packing lunches instead of always eating out, going to museums instead of trendy clubs, and so on. But after one failed attempt at making dinner at home – a complicated curry - she moves onto Plan B (another of her father’s euphemisms) – Make More Money. Her scheme is to either land an eligible millionaire bachelor and learn to like him later, or get another job - something that would allow her to get an employee discount and do minimal actual work. Needless to say neither of those schemes plan out either. She fails miserably at every halfhearted effort to straighten her life out. The smallest setback allows her to abandon the effort with great relief and, like a true addict, she is able to rationalize her continued spending. She isn’t bothered by the fact she’s a fake to her friends, a fraud at work and a farce to her family. When the truth is finally revealed to her roommate she allows her roommate (and only obvious friend) to work at a side job in Becky’s name just so that Becky can have the extra income. When really pushed at her job Becky doesn’t know what she’s talking about (ironically working as a financial journalist). She let’s her parents think she is being stalked when really it’s the bank manager’s relentless debt collection pursuit.
The problem with Rebecca Bloomwood’s plight is that it quickly loses appeal early in the story. In the beginning her situation is comical. Her justifications for spending are humorous. Yet, the longer she tells lies, the longer she disregards the seriousness of her situation the less likable she becomes. Her character development is shallow and superficial and it stays that way throughout the entire story. The final disappointment is that Becky doesn’t really change. There are no great epiphanies, no lessons learned.
Book Trivia: Confessions of a Shopaholic was published as Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic everywhere except the U.S. and India.
Author Fact: Sophie Kinsella is a pen name for Madeleine Wickham.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Chick Lit” (p 53). No brainer there.
Why is it that when the days and long and the weather is nice we gravitate towards “chick lit” and “beach reads” and other torpor-inducing dribble? I’m being harsh. Not to the authors but to myself. It seems like this summer had me submerged in silly. See for yourself. These are the books I had within my reach. First, what I predicted I would read:
- Daughters of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Allende’s birth month is in August so reading this made sense. Read in three days.
- While I was Out by Sue Miller. Something I picked up while I was on the island. Read in two days.
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Got extremely bored with this.
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Read in one day and scared the bejeezus out of me.
- Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. I’m still reeling from this one. Only because in it I recognized a relationship I wrecked. Hard to read about yourself sometimes. It got to me – so much so that I plan a “confessional” blog about it on the other site. Just need to drum up the courage to write it…
Now for the books I didn’t plan to read yet picked up along the way:
- Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. Read in a few days. This was decent. I just wish it wasn’t all about finding a fine man and getting laid…
- Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m thrilled this was on the Challenge list simple because it made me go back to Natalie’s version of “Land of Nod” and really listen to it. Beautiful.
- The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. I read this one during Hurricane Irene -only a few hours. I needed something simple to keep me company while I filled water bottles and worried about the ginormous maple outside my picture window.
- Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Probably my least favorite book of the bunch simply because I couldn’t understand the morality of the heroine of the story. The scene where Becky lies on her resume about speaking Finnish made me cringe. I was embarrassed for her.
I was able to snag one book for LibraryThing’s Early Review program: Call Me When You Land by Michael Schiavone. This had the potential to be something special. I really liked the storyline. It was the basic character development that had me reaching for more.
So. That was August. Not really impressive. No nonfiction. Nothing to set the house on fire. Maybe September will see something special.
McMillan, Terry. Waiting to Exhale. New York: Pocket Books, 1993.
Unfortunately, I saw the movie before I read the book. This embarrasses me because I hate picturing the movie characters while reading. It traps me. I don’t like having someone else’s imagination dictate what I see in my own mind, but it can’t be helped this time around. Lela Rochon (who reminds me of Robin Givens), Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Gregory Hines have all been cast for me and there is nothing I can do about it.
This is the ultimate chick lit story. Four women, all in their mid to late 30s, all searching for something, have a friendship in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s that friendship that gets them through all the different circumstances they deal with. Okay, I’m being coy. The circumstances mostly involve men. They all want a man to call their own. That’s the one thing they all have in common (besides age and race). Sex and the relentless chase. They all want to be in a relationship solid enough to breathe easy in. Savannah is independent and a little jaded by men. She definitely reminded me of someone I know. Bernadine (Bernie) has been left by her husband for a younger woman, a white woman. Speaking of the movie, she has the scene we all can’t forget: torching her husband’s belongings in the back seat of his expensive vehicle, then selling everything else for a dollar at a tag sale. Robin’s story is told from her perspective. She is a little naive when it comes to men. She believes in the power of astrological signs and smooth lines. Gloria is my favorite. Single handedly raising her teenager son, the father of her child has just told her he is gay. Despite all that she has a good head on her shoulders.
Lines that made me laugh: “He needs to suffer for a while, long enough to realize that a woman’s love is a privilege not his right” (p 46), and “I would have loved to say “Let go of me and go home, you tub of lard,” but you just can’t say that kind of thing without hurting someone’s feelings” (p 55).
Author Fact: McMillan has a really cool website, but what’s even cooler is that she was influenced by libraries at a very young age.
Brook Trivia: Waiting to Exhaleis a best seller that was made into a movie in 1995.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in two different chapters. First in the chapter called “African American Fiction: She Says” (p 12) and later in the chapter called “Women’s Friendships” (p 248).
Brockmann, Suzanne. Out of Control. New York: Ivy Books, 2002.
Here is the quick and dirty plot: Couple #1: Savannah von Hopf needs Navy SEAL Ken “WildCard” Karmody to help her save her kidnapped uncle somewhere in Indonesia. Couple #2: In Jakarta, missionary Molly Anderson is inexplicably drawn to silent, brooding “David Jones” who reminds me a little too much of the famed Indiana Jones. Couple #3: Back at FBI headquarters Alyssa Locke is trying to walk away from ex-lover Sam Starrett while avoiding walking into the arms of her boss, Max Bhagat. All three relationships will come together when Savannah’s rescue attempt goes horribly wrong.
The best part of Out of Control was the clever placement of Double Agent, a book written by Savannah’s grandmother, Rose. It’s on the best seller list so even missionary Molly is reading it.
The worst part about Out of Control was the corny sexiness of it all. If the three couples weren’t having sex they were imagining it at the most unrealistic moments. A helicopter just blew up and there are no survivors. That sucks, but boy would I like to lick that hard chiseled body of yours…
My favorite eye rolling line: “And as for getting a strenuous workout, his heart was not the primary organ he wanted to exercise” (p 23).
Also, when I started reading Out of Control I had this weird sense of deja vu. Something sounded really familiar about not only the characters but the plot as well. As if I had read it before. So, I did a little digging and back in 2008 I reviewed an earlier book by Brockmann called The Defiant Hero. Here are the similarities between the two books:
- Both plots involve a kidnapping of some sort.
- Both plots involve Navy SEALS and by default, both plots involve the FBI
- Both plots include a grandmother
- Both plots have a terrorist element to them
- In both books all lead characters are impossibly good looking
- Both books involve three sets of couples in sexual turmoil
- The same characters are in each book
There is a philosophy about writing – write what you know. I’d like to think authors take that with a grain of salt. If my third Brockmann book has Navy SEALS, sexy bodies, kidnapping, terrorism and a random grandmother thrown in for good measure I’ve figured out her formula.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 260).
Campbell, Bebe Moore. Brothers and Sisters. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 1994.
Discrimination is discrimination. When asked about Brothers and Sisters Campbell said if a person of color is ignored by a white waitress it is just as psychologically damaging as if the person of color is made to sit at the back of the bus. I see her point but there is a small part of me that has to ask two questions. One, is the person of color being ignored because of skin color or is the person of color being ignored by a really bad waitress? Two, does a book like Brothers and Sisters bring attention and awareness or fuel the fires of racism? I was talking to someone yesterday about the holocaust. Being German he was complaining that his country, “beats a dead horse” when remembering and making up for the atrocities of World War II. He feels that the constant reminders actually keep hate alive and if the powers that be let history slide into hazy remembrance “it wouldn’t be such a big deal.”I disagree but I have to admit it is an interesting point.
It took me a few pages to get into Brothers and Sisters. The introductions of the characters is exaggerated ; their personalities are inflated beyond reality. I found them to be too stereotypical. The need to illustrate the main character, Esther Jackson, as perfect is overdone. In the first chapter Esther is described as “efficient, tall, large breasted, slim hipped, strong, coordinated, powerful, smooth cocoa-colored skinned, muscular legged, pleasant faced, professional, congenial, full lipped, beautiful, meticulous, painfully perfect, impeccable, devoted to duty, well-enunciated, precise.” Yet, it is hard to like her because when it comes to dealing with white people she has these attributes, “rage, anger, venomous, hostility, violent, frowning.” She becomes wild-eyed and shaking at times. The opinions and racism Esther demonstrates are so vehement I have to wonder if they aren’t a reflection of the author’s feelings.
Esther Jackson is trying to make a career for herself at a downtown Los Angeles bank right after the April 1992 riots. She currently works in middle management but dreams of climbing higher. She knows that because of the color of her skin she must work twice as hard as her white counterpart to climb the corporate ladder. Despite the unfairness of the situation Esther herself practices prejudices when it comes to relationships and friendships. Beyond skin color she screens for financial status. Her motto is “no romance without finance.” But, when she allows herself to become friends with a white woman and finds herself dating a poor man things get complicated. In Brothers and Sisters you meet all kinds of characters with personal problems with society. The politics and backstabbing of all involved was fascinating. The entire story was a game of cat and mouse but exactly who was chasing who keeps you guessing.
Author Fact: Bebe Moore Campbell died at the age of 56 from brain cancer.
Book Trivia: Brothers and Sisters was written to encourage discussion about discrimination.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust twice. First, in the chapter called “African American Fiction: She Say (p 12). Then, in the chapter called California, Here We Come (p 50).
January 2010 will prove to be an interesting month. Maybe not as interesting as last month, but certainly something. There is a little bit of music: Rebecca Correia at the Iron Horse (this FRIDAY night!!!). I’d like to do something musical; something out of state…And speaking of going out of state, there is a pie/bed & breakfast thing in Rockland, Maine I’d like to check out with my mom at the end of the month.
- High Five by Janet Evanovich ~ I know I’m cheating because I already read this on New Year’s Day – in one day. It was fun!
- Echo House by Ward Just ~ in honor of Just’s birth month and also the month a new president (of the U.S.) takes office. I am already 75 pages into this one. It’s great!
- In Search of Robinson Crusoe by Timothy Severin ~ in honor of January the best time to visit the islands. What islands, you ask? Any islands, I say.
- First American: Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands ~ in honor of Benjamin Franklin. No, scratch that. I have been told to start with Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, so I will.
- Hole in the Universe by K.C. Cole ~ I have no idea why I am reading this.
If there is time:
- I, Robot by Isaac Asimov ~ in honor of Isaac Asimov.
For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program: Then Came the Evening by Brian Hart (already reviewed). I have word that I am to receive another book but because there are still two others out there that I haven’t received I don’t trust that I’ll get it in January. It might become a February book.
Lipman, Elinor. The Inn at Lake Devine. New York: Random House, 1998.
This kind of fiction reminds me of delicious junk food. Tastes so good going down but does nothing for you later. I found The Inn at Lake Devine very easy to swallow – read it over the course of two days while keeping up with two other books I had going.
How to describe this book? Simple, yet not. It’s about Natalie Marx, a young Jewish woman looking to start a professional career as a chef. As a young girl she learned first hand about “polite prejudice” when her family is denied a reservation to a Gentile-only, family-run resort in Vermont (The Inn at Lake Devine, of course). This exclusion creates curiosity in Natalie and she sets out to get herself invited as a guest. Fast forward ten years and through some near incredible coincidences Natalie finds herself entangled with the Inn at Lake Devine family once again. Only this time she is all grown up and ready to face the stereotypes and the complications of the heart head on. Of course it involves falling in love with the “enemy.” Under the cute romance there is an honest commentary on what it means to marry outside your religion, what it means to be accepting of societies different than your own.
Favorite lines: “‘I wipe the fuzz off peaches when a customer wants nectarines”‘ (p 61). Love the sarcasm!
“Most beautiful and moving in a repertoire of beautiful and moving carols was Silent Night in German and English, by candlelight” (p 95). That’s my favorite part of the service, too.
And one more: “‘Natalie can tell whether boiling water has been salted just by sniffing the steam,’ said Kris” (p 170). Damn, she’s good!
BookLust Twist: From Book Lustin the chapter, “Elinor Lipman: Too Good To Miss” (p 146).
Any Given Sunday was a football movie. Any Given Thursday was a John Mayer dvd. Any Given Doomsday is my latest Early Review book for LibraryThing. I have to start off by saying this book was out of my comfort zone. On purpose. I don’t read traditional “chick lit” and I steer away from “fantasy” genre. Any Given Doomsday s eemed to be both. But, like with the Book Lust Challenge (which is teaching me to appreciate all styles of writing), I wanted to give this book, and myself, a chance. I’m sorry that I did.
Reading Any Given Doomsday was like trying to enjoy a decent omelet only to have it occasionally spoiled by the jarring crunch of a careless eggshell. The overall plot, monsters are going to take over the world, was thrilling but what was so unsettling was my dislike for the main character, Elizabeth Phoenix. There wasn’t enough character depth to make me appreciate her tough-as-nails attitude. Her strength definitely was a necessity to her position in life (seer, psychic, etc), but I tired quickly of her horny, yet angry mood swings. She was attracted to a few different monster/characters and for every sexy thought she had an equally violent one (clenching fists etc). When she finally “gave in” to having sex with that “must I?” attitude the seductions were weak and the sex was gratuitous and predictable because of Lizzie’s libido. Of course, the transfer of supernatural powers through intercourse made the graphic scenes easy to include.
All in all I thought Any Given Doomsday tried too hard to be over the top dramatic use of religion as an explanation for the plot, the use of sex as a vehicle for smut, and the shallow character development made
I’m not a big fan of stupid characters. Here’s a great example. Liz is raped by her exboyfriend turned monster. Afterwards he tells her she is to be his sex slave for life: never wear clothes and “give it to him” whenever and wherever he wants. She leaves to take a shower and is somehow shocked and offended to find her clothes missing when she gets out. Duh? She’s outraged despite the fact “the rules” were laid out for her. Insert eye roll here.
Completely off topic: the chick on the cover, who I am assuming is Elizabeth Phoenix, reminds me of a member of the Nashville, TN band called Jypsie. As a result, I kept wanting to put a Southern drawl in Liz’s mouth!
When it comes to chick lit I think there has to be a trick to reading it. At least for me there are two tricks. Suspension of belief, first and foremost…and the ability to laugh out loud at some of the nonsense.
Dog Handling is the story (cute story!) of Liv Elliot, a soon-to-be married accountant in London’s Notting Hill district. When Liv’s fiance breaks off the engagement she flees to Australia to mend her not so broken heart. Australia brings new friendships, a new career opportunity, new men (of course), and a whole new way of dating them. Liv’s outlook on life changes once she learns the rules of “dog handling.”
Traditionally, I am not a big fan of mind games, overextended cliches and predictable sappy-happy endings and Dog Handling had all of the above. It took me sometime to stop making Bridget Jones comparisons and seeing Liv Elliot in her own bumbling, lovable, all’s well that ends well movie. Once I was able to get past all that I truly enjoyed the story. The characters were delightful and the plot, humorous. It was a great summer read.
Favorite lines: “After all, a foreign city is a foreign city, and until she knew the precise location of the nearest places to buy newspapers, tampons, and beer she wasn’t taking any chances” (p 40).
“Liv had been cutting split ends off her hair with a potato peeler” (p 232). What a great idea!
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Chick Lit” (p 54). Where else?
When I first learned this chick-lit was on my list I didn’t know whether to groan or grin. But, after pages and pages of stuffy political biographies I knew I’d need a fluffy change. I just didn’t expect it to be so funny! Luckily, my good friend let me borrow it…Here’s the LibraryThing Review:
Bridget Jones is a likable 30-something Londoner. A little on the plump side (so she thinks) and more than a little single (so everyone keeps pointing out), her year long diary takes the reader on a journey through her attempts at weight loss and dating. While her weight gain is more that her ultimate loss and her initial love interest cheats on her, Bridget triumphs with humor and a naivete that is undeniably charming. Obsessive and narcisstist characteristics aside, Bridget could be any woman’s best friend. A delightful (quick) read.
My favorite lines:
“I know what her secret is: she’s discovered power” (p 58).
“Love the friends, better than extended Turkish family in weird headscarves any day” (p 74).
“There’s nothing worse than people telling you you look tired. They might as well have done with it and say you look like five kinds of shit” (p 92).
“By 11:30 Sharon was in full and splendid auto-rant” (p 108).
The only disappointment was a discrepancy with dates. On Wednesday, March 15 Bridget writes “only two weeks to go until birthday” yet, on Tuesday, March 21 she claims it’s her birthday. Two weeks from the 15th is the 29th or at least the 28th. Even if she is counting work weeks it would have been the 25th. Not sure what to think of that. Then there is the time she spends doing something. How is it possible to spend 230 minutes inspecting your face for wrinkles? I’ve done the math. That’s nearly 4 hours – unless London has more minutes to an hour than we do…(ps~ I’m being a snob here. Of course I know Bridget isn’t spending that much time on one activity…)
Another weirdness is that Bridget makes reference to Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon a lot. I couldn’t figure out what the reference was all about considering The Banger Sisters didn’t come out until 2002. I’m thinking she meant Thelma and Louise but in that case she didn’t mean Goldie Hawn, but rather Geena Davis. Whatever.
BookLust Twist: From Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust in the chapter called, you guessed it, “Chick-Lit” (p 53).