A happily nerdy elementary school librarian ends up competing in a beauty pageant in this fun and frothy read.
Charlotte Gorman loves her twin sister, Ginny, but the two couldn’t be more different. After their mother died when they were small children, Charlotte retreated into books like their professor father, while Ginny stepped into their beauty queen mother’s high heels. Now that they’re adults, Charlotte is tagging along as Ginny competes for the title of Miss American Treasure in Orlando, Florida. For Ginny, it’s the very last chance to win the title before she turns 30 and ages out of the competition, but Charlotte’s mostly excited to get her nerd on at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while Ginny competes. That is, until Ginny has a major allergic reaction. With a swollen face, she can’t possibly take part in the pageant…but luckily, Charlotte looks just like Ginny. Well, with a lot of makeup and hairspray, that is. Even though the dishonesty makes her nervous, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to compete in Ginny’s place and soon finds herself learning to walk in heels, wearing a bikini on stage, and befriending the other contestants. But as Ginny hides in their hotel room, Charlotte is doing a lot more than just competing for the crown. She’s also developing a relationship with one of the judges, a Mr. Darcy–esque man who picks up on all her literary references. The only problem is that he thinks she’s Ginny. How long can Charlotte keep up this charade before she’s found out? Wilson (The Art of Us, 2016, etc.) takes what seems like a preposterous premise and turns it into delightfully escapist fun. Charlotte is an engaging narrator, and even though she goes into the pageant with some negative assumptions about her competitors, the story is refreshingly free of cynicism—the contestants are smart, accomplished professionals who support each other and also happen to look great in fancy dresses.
A charming and unexpectedly touching behind-the-scenes look at the pageant world.