Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Generic chick

love struck , La’Brooy, Melanie

Chick lit always received a sideways glance of fluffy-content contempt from the acquisitionist. My disdain for candy-pink covers and frangipani bath bliss was unsettled when a friend convinced me to pick up Melanie La’Brooy’s love struck. Deliciously saccharine, the ‘busy’ cover belies the adroit humour and sassy intellect of the main character, Isabelle Beckett, and her romantic adventures.

Isabelle Beckett, as her namesake suggests, continues a tradition of chivalric romance, lusting for an ideal. Similarly, her best friends Fran and Zoe (think Salinger and the Glass legacy of intellectual ennui and analytical astuteness) are romantic wrecks. Combine 19th century romantic expectations with the cynicism of Salinger, and the reader is set for a trip of courtship chaos.

With a penchant for literary types, Isabelle is constantly disappointed. Musing on her ideal she wonders:

‘It’s odd what we’re attracted to, isn’t it? I mused. ‘I mean all a boy has to do to impress me is to be well-read or have stories to tell- and I mean proper stories – and I’ll instantly attribute all these wonderful qualities to him that don’t necessarily have anything to do with him. He could be a lying, cheating, tofu-eating freak for all that I know but I’ll fall for him just because he’s read Anna Karenina.

Defending this ideal, her singledom, her job at an art auction house, and her tutu-wearing tendencies becomes Isabelle’s challenge. Isabelle deals with the craziness of her life as she confronts Sydneysiders, taxi drivers, spiders, the world and importantly herself in order to regain control. If you are after something highly funny, pick up a copy of love struck but don’t be surprised if you embarrass yourself with snorts of laughter on your daily commute.

I am surprised at how preconceptions are dispelled, dismantled and left on the verge when I actually begin to read a book. Intimidating classics, like Eliot’s Mill On the Floss which I recently read for my Victorian lit course are surprisingly enjoyable. Has anyone else been pleasantly surprised when venturing outside of their typical material?


Eva said...

that's so weird that Hornby is in the literary fiction; it's definitely a collection of columns

hmmmm....I tend to avoid chick lit (as in, I would only read chick lit if all other books magically disappeared), but you've almost convinced me to try it out

of course, here in the boonies there aren't any bookstores, so it'll have to wait for awhile

Bybee said...

I tend to avoid Chick Lit -- it's those covers that put me off; they're just too pink. However, there are a couple I'm interested in reading. One is called Literacy And Longing In L.A. and the other is In Full Bloom, about a Korean-American woman who is somewhere around her 30th birthday, and her mother is determined to find her a nice Korean husband. (This actually happens all the time here. If women get to be about 33 and they're still unmarried, they're SOL. I'm with've just about convinced me as well to read this book.

acquisitionist said...

Eva and Bybee- If you can get hold of a copy it's definitely worth a read. I'd love to hear what you think. Being an Australian novel though it might be hard to find - but not impossible. Apparently some of the jokes were changed for an international audience who may not get our Aussie sense of humour. Let me know if you have trouble getting a copy.

bybee- Pink covers scare me away too! They do sound like interesting reads. Literacy and Longing sounds particularly compelling!

Arukiyomi said...

ever been surprised you ask... constantly. That's because I'm forced to read outside my normal comfort zone by following reading lists others suggest. This is partly out of curiosity but mostly out of sheer ignorance whenever I'm faced with a fiction section in a book shop.

My life project is 1001 books so that keeps throwing up surprises. Recent ones include Ellisons Invisible Man which I'll post a review of shortly. Solzhenitsyn's novels have been nothing short of a profound revelation too.

Bybee said...

When does your semester end? I can hardly wait for you to get back to reading and blogging! Don't mean to hassle you; it's just that I miss you so much!

acquisitionist said...

Thanks bybee! I need need need encouragement because I'm so lazy. I've been reading stackloads though. In the travel narrative I've just finished (The Summer of my Greek Taverna) the author also raves about MFK Fisher so I will keep my eyes peeled for How to Cook a Wolf. Hope you are well!