Monday, August 10, 2009

End of Summer Reads

There are only a few precious weeks of hammock/lemonade/beach reading left. Happily, a few recently published novels have emerged as Summer-worthy reads.

In Twenties Girl (2009) Sophie Kinsella again writes to formula, but what a winning formula. Kinsella's strong and true imagination makes even the most outlandish plot work. In this story, twenty-something Lara, a struggling businesswoman, encounters the ghost of her Great Aunt Sophie who haunts London, and particularly her niece, in search of a missing necklace. Lara and Sophie become a team, working together to find more than the necklace. Together they reconcile Sophie and her long lost love by uncovering a family secret, and resolve Lara's work and love problems. As always, the minor characters and settings are light and bright and sparkling. The contemporary London business scene comes amusingly and creepily alive when Lara and Sophie investigate a millionaire relative's coffee shop empire and learn the truth about Lara's business partner.

The worst thing about Best Friends Forever (2009) by Jennifer Weiner is its title. With a madcap Thelma and Louise-style romp as its centerpiece, the plot of Best Friends Forever is improbable, but fun. Former best friends since the age of nine, Addie and Valerie drift apart throughout high school where Addie remains an overweight outcast and Val gets in with the popular kids. The two have a permanent rift over a bad incident and meet up again on the night of their fifteen year high school reunion. Valerie thinks that she has committed a crime which leads the two to reunite for a cross country flight in an ancient station wagon, an attempted bank robbery, and a police chase. The emotional center of the novel is the character of Addie and the moving portrayal of her life long loneliness and deprivation. There is a hard core to this light and humorous story, but that doesn't make it any less fun. As a bonus, the story is set in Pleasant Ridge, Illinois, a fictitous suburb of Chicago.

The Debutant Divorcee by Plum Sykes, a former Vogue editor, was published in 2006, and it is complete, utter, and total fluff. Set among super-rich and connected young New Yorkers it involves newly-wed Sylvie landing in a pool of divorcees frantically celebrating their freedom. They vacation in places I've never heard of and buy $20,000 bracelets on a whim. The novel satirizes the rich mommy set, predatory Euro-trash, sexy seniors after young women, and young women after even younger men. The Debutante Divorcee is like Sex and the City on steroids.