Tag Archives: “chick lit”

“Left Bank” by Kate Muir

Another “accidental” read, found in the rented beach house where we spent Thanksgiving. (See December 9, 2014, for a review of the book I found last year.)

  • Genre = “chick” lit.
  • Sub genre = second chances and middle age.
  • Sub sub genre = what’s for dinner?

A fictional look at the lives of rich and sophisticated Parisians. What could be more fun? Lots of details about food and fashion. The book centers around a family. Madame M is an American actress from Texas, just transitioning from film to live stage, doing her best to be more French than a native born Parisian. Her husband thinks he is Jean Paul Sartre. Their seven year old daughter Sabine, raised mostly by hired help, knows her parents are unhappy. In a moment of pique , she “runs away”, and circumstances extend her absence for over 12 hours, enough to scare any parent witless. As the family recovers from this trauma, the adults start to make changes in their lives.

This not-especially-meaty plot is enlivened by a character of considerable mystery, Madame Canovas, the aged and eccentric concierge in the apartment building, who sheltered the “missing” Sabine. A few days later, she jumps to her death from the roof of the building, her secrets dying with her. Was she guilty, delusional or merely eccentric?

By the end of the book, a divorce is functionally complete. Both parents are paying attention to little Sabine, who thrives. But the reason I would refer to this cheerful novel as “chick lit” is that, at the end, Madame M’s career is soaring, while her former husband seems trapped in his intellectual pretensions, and Paris has turned its attention to other philosophers.

“Picnic in Provence – A Memoir with Recipes” by Elizabeth Bard.

This is a warm and fuzzy book about intercultural fun and confusion. The author’s first book, Lunch in Paris, was about meeting and marrying a handsome Frenchman. Picnic in Provence is about moving to a village, having a baby and starting an ice cream parlor.

Along the way, Bard writes about food, culture and child rearing, without slowing down too much or getting too serious. I’m not sure if any of her recipes will work for me, but they will be fun to try!

Inspired by Bard’s description of the French diet, I decided to fix soup for dinner. My main ingredients were a large can of chicken broth (zero fat, low sodium) and a head of cabbage. Also a small can of stewed tomatoes. There were some useful leftovers in the refrigerator – cooked greens, peas. I’ve always got carrots and onions. My husband came home a recommended precooked, smoked turkey sausage. Suddenly it smelled and tasted very good! Even better the next day, with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

“Tea with the Black Dragon” by R A MacAvoy – an old favorite of mine!

I don’t know when the term “chick lit” was first used. This book, published in 1983, might predate it. I consider it a gem of the genre! Another description would be romantic adventure.

Tea with the Black Dragon is just plain fun, the kind of book you would take along for a train ride or get lost in some rainy day. The heroine is flakey but loveable. Martha Macnamara travels to California at her daughter’s request, knowing that something is wrong but having no idea what it is. She is shocked to be unable to find her daughter at all. Before she can start to look for her, she meets a man who offers to help. Mayland Long is mysterious! He appears to be rich, old, very well educated and eccentric. That’s eccentric as in “not quite human”.

Martha and Mayland face off with dangerous criminals and save Martha’s daughter.

I was afraid, given the publication date, that this book might be unavailable, but, according to Amazon, it has been reprinted several times and they have it in e-format as well as new and used copies. So grab it, and enjoy!

“Plum Lucky” by Janet Evanovich

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and Irish or not, you deserve a treat! So read Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich. Read it even if you never heard of Evanovich. In my reading diet, she is a staple. I’ve got to read something of hers every few months, to keep my sense of humor alive. Anybody who can make a career of writing about Trenton, NJ, is very special. At least to me! Jersey girls have to stick together.

Plum Lucky resides on the “Mystery” shelf at the library, along with all the other Stepanie Plum novels. It’s part of Evanovich’s holiday series, which I discovered when I found a remaindered copy Visions of Sugar Plums, a Christmas story with a supernatural twist.

The holiday novels include Stephanie’s friend Diesel, whose supernatural skills include opening locks, teleportation and magical manipulation of playing cards. Taking these skills to Atlantic City makes it even funnier.

This book includes the usual cast of zany characters (Gramma Mazur gets kidnapped and burns down a house) and Stephanie hides a horse in her apartment. It’s all too silly for words, and it was just what I needed on a rainy weekend. Fans of the Stephanie Plum novels will be happy to learn that three cars exploded and Lula got her chance to fire a rocket launcher.

Go, Janet!

“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty

I started out with one good reason to read this book, and one reason not to.

Of course I am likely to read a book with my name in the title. “ALICE” is not a common name.

But I would generally not choose to read a book in which BRAIN INJURY is a prominent theme. I dealt with that in real life – I don’t need to pile fiction on top of it. I already know too much.

But here was this novel, handed along by a friend, and said to be funny, gripping, etc. So I plunged in!

The “Alice” of the title, a thirty something mother of three who is separated but not divorced, falls and bangs her head in the midst of a gym workout. TEN YEARS of her memory is obliterated. As she rediscovers her lost decade, she has an opportunity for a “rewind” that few ever encounter. Despite pitfalls and complications and new relationships, she and her husband get back together and rebuild their damaged marriage.

I’ll skip the medical critique. I guess they do things differently in Australia.

This turned out to be a pretty good read. I’ll pass it along the next time a friend needs something to take on a plane.