What it’s about:
When twenty-something singleton Jess Beam finds herself without a home, job or friends, she tracks down and moves in with her estranged grandmother. Desperate for the cash from a prospective publishing deal, they embark on a project to see if Jess can make an apparently eternal bachelor scumbag fall in love with her using the tips from her grandmother’s 1950s “good woman” guides to dating.
I have mixed feelings about this book I find hard to express. So hard, I’m going to have fall back on bullet points.
- The idea is good. The contrast and clash of modern feminist ideas and those of a 1950s “good woman” guide is an interesting starting point with plenty of room for development.
- The pace is amazing. You are never given a second to get idle or bored. This is a page-turner.
- Jess Beam’s first person narrative voice is distinctive and consistent.
- Descriptions are brief but evocative.
- The narrative is generally amusing and made me laugh out loud and/or giggle in a few places, particularly once I was past what I have come to think of as “the difficult first third”.
- The conclusion is mostly satisfying and I can see that there is lots left to develop for the sequel which is due to come out in 2016.
I think I have a problem with the specific niche of “chick-lit” this book sits in. It’s a type where the main character, her voice and antics always border on, and often slip over into farce. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a good bout of comedic swearing and slapstick as much as the next person, but a sustained onslaught of unnecessary profanity and slang, along with a series of humiliating events which make the supposedly feisty, intelligent heroine look completely ridiculous, wore me down. And even worse, the profanity became so dense in places it jarred me out of the narrative. I would just be getting sucked into events and then I’d find myself rolling my eyes. I don’t mind swearing at all, and I understand Jess Beam’s sweariness is an important facet of her character, but toning it down slightly wouldn’t have detracted from her singularity.
Overall, I think what I am trying to say is:
If you are a fan of this sub-genre, you will love this book and not be distracted or disheartened by the elements which irritated me. Read it now: you will get through this light funny romp in a few hours and come out happier.
If you are not a fan, I don’t know whether you will be able to forgive or find amusing the more irritating/absurd aspects of the heroine’s voice and escapades. I think I would have enjoyed this book without reservation had things only been dialed down from 110 to 100 because, as I hope I’ve made clear, there is a lot to like.
Uf! That’s left me exhausted. Off to make a cup of tea…