MISS UNDERSTANDING by Stephanie Lessing


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Radical feminist editor takes over a women’s-fashion magazine.

Lessing's debut, She’s Got Issues (not reviewed), introduced Chloe Rose and Issues, a glossy fashion magazine. This sequel focuses on Chloe’s sister Zoe. Zoe Rose is hired as Deputy Editor at Issues, and her goal is to turn the publication into a feminist literary review. Zoe’s first act is to rename the magazine Miss Understanding. Her next step is to develop an editorial agenda that will delve into why it is that women are so mean to each other. Zoe never overcame grade-school ostracism—this is her vilify-the-popular-girls-who-terrorized-their-nerdy-classmates moment. In Lessing’s hands, Zoe is turned into an utter cliché—a friendless, combat-boot wearing feminazi. According to Zoe, anyone who cares a whit about his or her outward appearance is a Barbie-loving threat to female power. Zoe quickly alienates most of her staff and loses the majority of her readers. In what is offered up as irony, Zoe becomes pregnant. And guess what else? It’s a girl! Will Zoe be able to stick to her mission and save ignorant women from obsessing about all the wrong things while simultaneously suffering through every single unsavory side effect of pregnancy? Not a chance. Due to internal sabotage and Zoe’s incoherent articles, the magazine is doomed to failure. The only thing left to salvage are Zoe’s relationships with her boyfriend and family. Lessing fails to elevate her prose to the level required of satire. The book is neither funny nor clever, and the characters are either transparent or maddeningly quirky.

Ill-conceived attempt to satirize the chick-lit genre.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-113388-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2006