Mustard errand gone horribly wrong.
Sitcom writer (Murphy Brown, Spin City) Dunn’s first novel is breathy and hurried, as if a self-absorbed friend (just a garden-variety narcissist, with some empathic abilities) were crying in her Cosmo. So what’s stopping our narratrix Alison Hopkins from finding “Big Love,” especially after getting her cheese moved by her long-term boyfriend and cohabitant, Tom Hathaway, he of the ugly leather couch he didn’t consult her about before buying? During their couple-affirming dinner party, Tom, sent out by Alison for Dijon, phones back to tell her that not only does the store not have any Grey Poupon but he no longer has room for her in his heart. That constricted space has been taken up by the lovely Kate, his ex-college flame reignited. Cut loose, Alison can wallow once more in her old-virgin misery (raised as an evangelical Christian, her deflowering was postponed until age 25, leaving her congenitally insensitive to pheromones and come-hithers) and hone diatribes for the column she writes for a Philly alternative paper. Rants abound on Romantic Market Value, the mating disadvantages faced by Christian women, and the unfair backlash against “Old Mothers,” women who dare to have children after 30 in defiance of that Time magazine article. A self-styled late bloomer at 32, Alison will have a fling with her managing editor, lose her column to a less competent but sluttier writer, and ruminate amply and far-too-many-other-adverbs-ly about the obsessions she shares with the busy and fulfilled girlfriends who nevertheless always have time for long wine-soaked grudge-fests or impromptu pregnancy tests. Glib dialogue keeps the story humming along, although even the most seasoned chick-lit fan will find its men improbably fickle, even for guys. The backstory is more arresting than the formulaic plot: an ironic insider’s take on born-agains may be just the thing for readers left behind.
No big love or surprises here.