I bought this book recently somewhat on a whim. I heard the author (who is local in DC) interviewed on NPR and it sounded good. The comparison was to Bridget Jones’s Diary which I found very funny. I rarely buy books these days but they didn’t have it at our library yet. I was making a purchase on Amazon anyway and went ahead and added this. At the time , I was just finishing up Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy and I thought I could use something funny as my next book.
The premise of the book is twenty-something girls in New York City who are watching their friends get married and settle down and feel left behind. They are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives and trying to meet a decent guy and trying to figure out how to transition from college to adulthood. My first thought as I read the book was that I couldn’t relate to it as that is just not at all where I am in my life right now. As I read though, I realized that it’s not that I’m no longer that girl, it’s that I’ve never been that girl. I went straight from college to medical school. I never had a lot of angst about becoming an adult. I wanted to get married one day but didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about it. Once I met H. and fell in love, I didn’t really spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not he was the right “one”.
The thing is that I’ve also never been a woman living on the moors in seventeenth century England. I’ve never been someone so beautiful that others thought I was a witch. I’ve never pursued several men just because I could and then despaired because my husband refused to take me away to live the life of luxury I thought I deserved. I should relate more to the girls in Jennifer Close’s novel than Hardy’s but after reading the two books, Eustacia Vye seemed much more real to me than any of them.
Part of the reason I may have had a hard time connecting with the characters in this book was the structure. It’s really more of a series of short stories with overlapping characters than a novel. I am not a big fan of short stories, although I do appreciate that a short story well done shows a high level of craft. In some ways I think short stories are the more difficult format. I think if the book had been billed as a book of short stories I would have perhaps enjoyed it more. But I expected a novel and wanted a novel and only about halfway through realized this wasn’t really a novel. Once I realized it was more a collection of short stories I did enjoy it more. I read each chapter as an entity in itself and stopped trying to figure out what the overall flow of the plot/story was. That helped.
It is a funny book. There were several times I laughed out loud, which is not all that common for me. In the end though, I ended up finding dark and depressing much more enjoyable than light and frothy.