Mousy woman weds philandering jerk.
A lackluster array of supposedly sophisticated characters fall in and out of love and marriage in Green’s uninspired sixth outing (a “#1-bestselling blockbuster novel in Britain,” we’re told). Alice Chambers is a shy but successful caterer who’s romanced by Joe, a good-looking womanizer: he’s oh-so-amused by her essential innocence and what passes for self-deprecating wit about terribly important things like expensive footwear that pinches (“Bloody Jimmy Choos”). Airheads on both sides of the Atlantic will be impressed by heaps and heaps of brittle oh-darling dialogue and brand-name-y prose, plus a general sense of throwaway fabulousness that would bring a chilly smile even to Anna Wintour’s narrow lips. Joe and Alice move through a slice of Manhattan that’s as thin and unreal as they are—from Bergdorf’s on 57th St. to the posh Vietnamese eatery Le Colonial a few blocks south, and that’s it, though Wall Street is mentioned once or twice. (That’s where Joe does something with money, darling.) Throwaway fabulousness, however, does not come cheap. Joe prefers New York for female-fondling escapades, but Alice flees to Connecticut and takes up gardening, finding comfort in fluffy puppies and vicarious adultery, thanks to women writers. Her carelessly elegant attire escapes the dreaded Westport effect—no navy plaid skirts and boiled-wool blazers for our Alice—as Diesel jeans and muddy Wellies get her noticed. Or is it actually her trim tummy and newfound self-confidence? And what about Joe, who’s worried about getting his bunny boiled by an out-of-control mistress? Oh, darling, it’s all so ironic. And all written in the present tense, too . . . .
Come back, Jemima J (2000)!