Saturday, December 22, 2007

James Collins/BEGINNER'S GREEK


Peter, a hedge funder, and Holly, a classics teacher, meet on an airplane and Peter falls hard for Holly. When he foolishly loses her phone number, he realizes the woman of his dreams has slipped out of his life...until she reappears as his best friend's wife. Some people are meant to be with other people; many hijinx ensue.

I was really disappointed by this book (which is coming out in January 08, has gotten a lot of positive buzz, and has already been picked as a Booksense choice). I think because of the high-end packaging and the length (416 pages!! at least 150 of which are pure unnecessary fluff; also, a good number are devoted to tertiary characters' back stories, which I don't understand because some of them, eg Charlotte's father, never come back into the story after they have their scene at the beginning...) I had assumed it was going to be a thoughtful contemporary love story. Alas, it is "chick lit" at its most cliche. I might have been less disappointed by it if I'd gone in expecting something extremely conventional. But alas. I didn't.

If you're looking for a "satisfying" (read: neatly resolved!) quick read that will provoke little moral ambivalence, this might be a book for you. But alas I have an axe and I will grind it briefly here. Not only is the plot not particularly original and a little bit dawdling, not only are there some almost farcical cutenesses (a law firm called Fold, Moisten & Seal? Seriously?), not only is this book another lighthearted celebration of rich, polished white people and their understanding of high drama, but there's just SO much patriarchy about it. Peter doesn't love his wife because her dress isn't quite chic enough, because she's not quite pretty enough, because she works really hard to be cultured (you shouldn't have to work for it!), because she makes herself look foolish and undignified when she imitates a gargoyle face. (Peter actually thinks that in one scene.) Holly, the love interest, is such a thin flimsy character--everyone loves her, but you get to the end of the book knowing next to nothing about her. Meanwhile, the men cheat and lie and manipulate, but the women love them anyway.

But who knows. Maybe I'm being unfair, and these are the things that men like Peter really think about.

Anyway. I'm sorry this review is a little mean; I just found the book a little mean.

7 comments:

cyn said...

probably something i wouldn't pick up anyway, but thanks for the warning. that's too bad. i wonder why it got such positive buzz? must have a lot of backing from the publisher?

Wayne said...

Happy New Year!

Alan said...

Mz moonrat, may I wish you the best for the comming year?

One day I would like to share a favorite that I first read when I was 19 and reread every 20 years: "Islandia", know it?

Froog said...

Cosmic coincidence time again: the book I posted about the other week - Essays In Love by Alain de Botton - begins with the narrator falling in love with a woman he meets on an airplane.... and then forgetting her phone number.

Don't apologise for the meanness. Bad books deserve mean reviews.

It's good to see you letting rip!

And a very Happy New Year to you!!

Kate Diamond said...

The name "Holly" always makes me think of Laurie Colwin novels... which are actually quite satisfying.

Happy New Year!

moonrat said...

Thanks, all!! Happy New Year to you, too!!

moonrat said...

the New York Times loved this book, it seems.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/books/review/Kaplan-t.html

sigh. i'm an editor with no commercial taste, apparently.