08 March 2009

On Chick-Lit

Chick-lit is a funny, funny thing. Like any other literary sub-genre it has it's hierarchy, yet people seem to forget this a lot of the time. It is unfortunate, because an author like Marian Keyes (the undisputed queen of the sub-sub-genre 'normal people chick-lit') consistently produces novels which are far better than many general fiction titles.

With this (not ICBM-proof but still relatively sound I feel) logic behind me, I never feel embarrassed to buy chick-lit. Most of the time I confess I am disappointed, but the occasional title like Bergdorf Blondes or Mad About the Boy reaffirms my conviction that chick-lit CAN be sophisticated.

Generally what we get is either 'normal people chick-lit' or 'fashionable chick-lit'. The former are generally comforting, with deep and meaningful thoughts about relationships punctuated with pale pink David Austin roses. The latter are FABULOUS DARLING, with rich, young, beautiful things gadding around in Chanel bathing suits and drinking Bellinis at 2 in the afternoon.

Bookends, by Jane Green, which I have just completed, falls into the former category. It is OK. My main problem is that it attempts to stray into the latter category and talks a bit about fashion.

When the author clearly has NO IDEA.

Thus we have Cath, our 30-something young woman who has just opened a bookstore, wearing an Armani black velvet pantsuit to the daytime opening.


We then have to suffer through several paragraphs of her joyous exclamations when she picks up a pale pink cashmere-blend jumper and I suppose we are to feel inspired when she pairs said jumper with pale grey slacks.

However, if you have a higher tolerance than myself and you can't quite face the Rwandan genocide on a sunny weekend (A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is my other read at the moment) go pick this up and sink into mindless enjoyment. If you want more than mindless enjoyment but are still quite drawn by the pastel colours and sparkly, italicised writing, go for one of these authors:

- Marion Hume
- Marian Keyes
- Plum Sykes
- Maggie Alderson
- Helen Fielding
- Sophie Kinsella (ONLY for The Undomestic Goddess, the Shopaholic books are TRULY exasperating.)

Bookends rating: 5/10.
Search Engine Submission - AddMe