09 July 2008

Jane Green, Bookends


I picked up a lot of books after I finished Robbins and couldn't settle on any of them. I would start something, read a chapter, put it down (I am seriously inflicted with the can't get into the book disease). Finally, I settled on a beach read, Jane Green's Bookends. I've read Jane Green before. I read Jemima J when I was an undergraduate at Pitzer College, and I would still vote that novel as one of the finer examples of the genre known as chick lit (along with Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed).

Bookends doesn't really compare to that earlier novel, although the premise does appeal to me. Both the protagonist Cath and I are socially awkward homebodies who dream of owning a bookshop in London. Cath shares many of the attributes of the title character in Jemima J, but is somehow not as easy to relate to. The story is about four friends: Simon, Cath, Josh and Portia. They are tight in college, but as they enter adulthood they drift apart and Portia splits from the group entirely (only to reenter - dramatically - later in the novel). Like most novels in the genre, soap-opera-like drama ensues.

Unlike many "chick-lit" books, the romantic plot-line takes a back seat to some of the other concerns: Cath's burgeoning business and the web of rumors that circulates through the group of friends. Of course, the romance is there, but the Cinderella plot line is less pronounced than in some other novels of a similar kind. Some of the drama is over the top, especially near the end and there are definitely a few twists and turns that are meant to shock, but that I found predictable.

Bottom Line: I didn't think that this novel added much to the familiar story of the "chick lit" novel. However, it is a book about a girl who loves books, which kept this girl who loves books reading until the end.

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