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This is British chick lit, which tends to be heads and tails over your average American chick lit. I haven't yet figured out why, but the average Brit writer does so much better with this type of story and in creating pretty three-dimensional characters for a one-dimensional genre.

Samantha Sweeting is a high-powered London lawyer who itemizes her work and personal time into six minute chunks, has no idea where to send her cleaner for milk or how to turn her oven on, and hasn't had a vacation since she was 18. She's about to finally achieve her dream of partner when an elementary mistake messes up a 50 million pound deal. Humiliated and in a panic, she catches the first train out of the city and ends up in the middle of nowhere.

After too many drinks on the train, a splitting headache--and oh yeah a phone call that reminds her of how much has gone wrong, she stops at the first house she sees to ask for a glass of water and some directions. And is mistaken as an interviewee for a housekeeper. To her own surprise, she takes the job--but now has to learn all those pesky things she never did, like, y'know, cooking, cleaning, button-sewing, how to ask the hot gardener out... Finally the two worlds collide when it turns out the mistake wasn't Samantha's fault, the firm wants her back, and everything can go back to the way it was. Except the way things were, she now realizes, sucked. So what's she going to do?

Now here's what separates the novel from its average chick lit confederates. Housework is NOT easy. People in that position are treated like crap, and there is a running gag about how enthused her employers are at her ability to speak such good English. In fact they get her the equivilant of our GED study books so that she can "really make something of herself", never realizing of course that she has multiple degrees.

There's also an intriguingly self-aware section in the latter of the book where, after her innocence and her preference for housework to law is made known, a media storm develops and she's hounded by journalists demanding to know her thoughts on women in the workplace, has feminism failed, etc. This is always interesting given the current ongoing articles in the debate. What Sam has to say is that it suits her, not all women. Plus with this job, she actually has weekends off.

This book would have approached the genuinely literary if it had done more with the class issue. Sure weekends off are great, but how much time do they still genuinely get off? There's also a bit where Samantha notes her weekly pay is the same as her previous hourly pay. Some more coverage of these issues would have been appreciated.

Finally, this is a book that seems to be pre-written for the big screen. The jokes are well-paced and shot evenly, and all the plot threads tie up neatly in the end. If you want a chick flick in a book, check this one out.

Comments

( 4 comments — Add your .02 )
neojess
Jan. 11th, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
Off Topice, but WAY cool
Check out Dreamhaven's new item:
http://www.dreamhavenbooks.com/
Scroll down until you see Neil's name...

I'm ordering one. Want to get one too and save on the shipping?
caitri
Jan. 12th, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
Re: Off Topice, but WAY cool
Ooh shiny! Thanks for the offer but I'll pass due to tragic lack of wallspace and my credit card still recovering from holidays.

Unrelated, I got the new ALA Graphic catalog, which I love to look at as I like guessing which celebrities have actually read the books they're posing with. I will never EVER believe Colin Farrell has read Dubliners. I'm not sure about pre-baby Britney Spears and the first Harry Potter though, what do you think?
neojess
Jan. 12th, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)
Re: Off Topic, but WAY cool
I don't think BS can read. Farrell may have ripped out the pages to use for rolling papers, though....
Whoe else is in there? Sounds hilarious.


Do they still have the Sandman promos? Holly said she'd be willing to order those at one point....

As for the prints, the regular version will be around forever, so stash it in the "later file."
caitri
Jan. 12th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
Re: Off Topic, but WAY cool
Well Kelly Ripa has "Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe." I do believe that Keira Knightly may have read "Pride and Prejudice."

They do have Sandman posters and bookmarks; also a Neil Poster.
( 4 comments — Add your .02 )

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