Finally, chick lit from across the Atlantic where the British heroine falls for an American dude! Get this, bonus points, she really likes his accent!
‘Little Lady, Big Apple’ by Hester Browne is a quick fun read, but it is a few steps down from ‘Brigitte Jones’ Diary’. What I enjoyed about the story was that I have read several books about Americans going over to either London or Paris, but until ‘Little Lady,’ I have never read any of these stories from a European viewpoint. On a purely sociological level it is interesting to read, albeit in fictional form, just what a native of another western nation sees when they come to the United States. For starters, and I’m only talking about New York City BTW, according to Melissa Romney-Jones Americans are more pushy, physically fit, and have a lot more in terms of luxury items than the average upper-crust Londoner.
Melissa’s family has had its share of scandal. Melissa’s father for instance seems to always find himself on the wrong end of impropriety in regards to his seat in the British Parliament. Melissa’s older sister, Allegra, has just returned home because her art dealer husband is under investigation for being a Norwegian drug pin, while their mother seems fortified with gin and knitting strange animal creations that have six legs and two tails.
Browne leaves little doubt in the mind of readers that Melissa is actually the most sane member of the family although she owns and runs an agency which helps address common questions and self-esteem issues of men who are in need of a girlfriend’s advice without the occasional cuddle and shag. Up until she started to date her American boyfriend, Jonathan, who was once a client, Melissa takes on the persona of Honey Blennerhesket who is both a blonde bombshell and perfect in a Mary Poppins sort of way. Thrown into the mix is Melissa’s flat-mate Nelson, who is dating her best friend Gabi. Since Nelson owns the flat in which they live, he wants to remodel it while he is off to sea for three months, this officially leaves Melissa homeless, which is why she takes up Jonathon’s offer to stay with him (due to a promotion he recently moved back to New York).
Like many a heroine of such novels, Melissa is faced with the dilemma of a choice between one too many men, a dysfunctional family, and a career that leaves the average reader perplexed that someone actually does that for a living. Of course Jonathan has an ex who is still part of the picture, but playing a role behind the scenes BECAUSE the men in these novels ALWAYS have exs who are stirring up trouble. Does Melissa get herself into some humorous scrapes? Do you really need me to answer that?
I do admit that one incident irritated me as I was reading and that was when Melissa is lost and needs a friend she knows through Jonathan to guide her to the restaurant where she is meeting a bunch of gals by mobile phone. As she pops into the restroom to freshen up before having to sit with the group she runs into another woman who is frustrated over trying to get her daughter into an English prep school. A conversation later a plan is hatched and Melissa discovers the mother is part of the lunch party so she suggests that when they both arrive to the table late, they excuse themselves by saying they ran into each other while shopping (I can’t remember the exact excuse). HELLO, what happened to the friend who was giving her directions to the restaurant? I really hate that sort of disconnect in a story. Though minor, it happens within the same chapter and should have been caught by an eagle-eyed editor if not by Browne herself. (This my friends will play into a book review I have agreed to write in the next few days).
Overall, ‘Little Lady’ was an enjoyable book, but not an overly fulfilling one. I got the impression that Browne is planning to do a series of ‘Little Lady’ books, which I think there are worse things to make sequels to. If you are looking for something light between meatier non-fiction reads, than check out ‘Little Lady, Big Apple’ if the series takes off it just might be coming to a Cineplex near you soon.
© 2007 Westerfield