Chick-lit grows older and wiser.
Food writer Boorstin, author of Let Us Eat Cake (reviewed in the February 1, 2002, issue of Kirkus Reviews) serves up a concoction, more dessert than entrÃ©e, that exuberantly mixes the sweet things in life–love, friendship, family, and plenty of spice. Forty-nine year old narrator Miriam Levy is an L.A. wife, mother, and â€œwith” cookbook author (â€œsomeone who enables the author to get the â€˜By’ credit”). Her friend Kate, also 49, is divorced, rich, and unsettled. Eric, Kate’s first love, was the Swiss guide on the girls’ college trip to Europe in the ’70s. Of course, Kate, itching for adventure–i.e., a love affair for old times’ sake–Googles Eric, with resounding success: Naturally, he’s now the Swiss Ambassador to Malaysia, and–jackpot!–he’s never forgotten her. Steamy e-mails ensue, itchy condition worsens, and Kate’s off to Kuala Lumpur, attempting to drag along the always cautious, very reluctant Miriam, as support and partner-in-midlife-antics. Miriam remains stalwart in her refusal until her eldest daughter, a TV reporter, announces she’s pregnant and expects Miriam to raise the baby; Miriam’s aging mother, who lives in Buffalo, wants to move in; and failed screenwriter husband Alan continues to ignore her. Miriam’s soon on the plane. In Malaysia, attempted assault, a kidnapping, and other zany adventures the two women face hit the picaresque high marks, avoiding, in true chick-lit fashion, somber reminders of life’s real dangers. Kate finally hooks up with Eric, as his suspicious, pesky, dumpy wife mills about. And Miriam is wooed by Vijay, a rich Indian doctor she met on the plane. A widower, Vijay proposes marriage to a very tempted Miriam. (Alan, remember, isn’t the fun fellow he used to be.) The twists, turns, and revelations of life and love pile wisdom on top of wisdom and leave Kate and Miriam waxing wistful. Though â€œinspired by a true incident . . . involving Boorstin and one of her best friends,” this is an adult fairy tale (albeit with very real recipes). Happy endings may just be in the works.
A ruefully witty love story, more for dames than babes.