How does Youtube know about my reading habits? Can they see me reading when I’m sitting next to my computer? Are they with me at the library when I check out embarrassing books? And which one is their favorite, because if it’s not Ten Things I Love About You or The Duke and I or When He Was Wicked they’re fucking crazy.
Prompted by Kate and KB, I succumbed to the glossy temptation of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet. While I’ve never been one for the traditional bodice-rippers, I’ve got a fair amount of Jane Green/Marian Keyes/Emily Giffin/Lauren Weisberger/Jennifer Weiner chick-lit under my belt, and I usually enjoy every predictable word. I say this to assure you that, as I cracked open Vision in White (Book 1), I wanted to love it. Four best friends with distinctly different hairstyles, people named things like Delaney and Emmaline, silly metaphors for sexual acts… What’s not to love?
Sadly and probably unsurprisingly, I have many complaints, the least of which is Roberts’ incorrect usage of “hook up.”* Skip the timing (they meet on Jan 1st and get engaged mid-March… really, Nora? REALLY??) and the overwhelming wedding minutia (WTF is a pomander anyway?), and the schmaltzy-waltzy dialogue. I must admit that I signed up for the suspension of disbelief, the preposterously whirlwinded fairytale and even all the wedding mumbo-jumbo.
What rang incredibly false, and what I was really hoping would ring true, was the depiction of female friendship. There’s a scene early in the book where the friends (they are also business partners) are congratulating themselves on a job well done and they toast, to themselves, for being “damn smart women.” I cringed, I literally cringed. Have you ever had girlfriends, Nora?
My female friends are amazing across the board. They are certainly a brainy bunch, full of both high-brow theories, low-level street wisdom and everything in between. They are professionally successful, ambitious and creative. Funny, confident, strong…and yes, beautiful. In any room with them, I feel seriously blessed.
The complexity of adult female friendships is not the point of the Bride Quartet, I know. And yet when you’re asking me accept a whole bunch of other preposterous things, and your foundational structure is “these four women are best friends,” and their friendship feels like a list of outdated cliches…. I’m just not buying.
Do you know what real best friends would do if you got engaged after less than three months? They would look at your ring, shriek a little, then grab your face, squeeze it really hard and say “GIRLFRIEND, YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND.”
* “…back when she was still hooked up with Carter.” NO. If you want to play with the ‘tweens, Nora… learn the lingo.
Editors’ Note — When I received this post from KB, it was headed with the following statement: “Rough draft for smart girls, it turned out very personal so I’m skeptical about posting it, but you can read it and tell me what you think about my crazy.” Readers, you have been WARNED.
Kate recently shared with me one of the most quintessential “smart girls stupid things” – a series of romance novels: the Bride Quartet. The Bride Quartet is a series of four books written by esteemed romantic novelist (and New York Times Best Selling Author) Nora Roberts. The Quartet centers around four best friends each finding the love of their life (and each in their own book). Disclaimer: at this time, I’ve only read 2 of the four books.
In both books one partner in the relationship abstains from saying “I love you” even after the other partner has said those three important words. Later, there is an epiphany, the abstaining partner proclaims their love, and then (this is important!) in the same scene, the couple becomes engaged. To be married.
The book then ends. This particular series is especially romantic (my lovely officemate refers to these books as my bodice-ripping novels, but these books are quite tame and mushy-gooshy), and so I find myself left with envy and that contentment one can only feel after reading or viewing a satisfying ending to a romantic movie or book. I compare the characters to myself; is that the type of guy I should be looking for? Does that character’s neuroses and charms match my own?
But some time after it occurred to me — would I really want that? How long were they dating? They got engaged right after saying I love you? Isn’t that too soon? There’s a scene in the first Sex and the City movie, where Miranda and Samantha tease Carrie for having dated Big for 10 years. To me that always seemed like the right idea — date for a while, live together for years, then when you’ve really tested out the relationship, get married.
But Nora Roberts never writes books like that. Her characters never date for a year before living together and then live together for 3 more before an engagement. And if Nora doesn’t write about it, then it can’t be romantic, can it?
Now granted, I have enough neuroses to be a character in a Nora Roberts novel — but I’m seriously concerned by this. Can romance – falling deep and fast in love – coexist with practicality and precaution? In this particular series, these women are supposed to be modern, sophisticated, 21st century women. But they fall in love and get engaged without ever living with their partner before that. To me, Nora’s formula seems kind of archaic and anachronistic.
It’s a fairytale. I knew that when I started reading it. It’s no different than Cinderella or a Nicholas Sparks movie. I just wish this fairy tale was a little more modern – and addressed the un-romantic problems of relationships like joint checking accounts, buying groceries, deciding whose family to see for the holidays, and taking out the trash. When I finished the book I felt full of romance and hope. Now, a few hours later, I feel depressed and even more skeptical that I’ll ever find someone that I love passionately and am practically compatible with. And yet, I know I’ll read the other two books in this series and many more by the same author.
Ain’t that some shit?
I mean that so lovingly, I swear.
“Amanda: I’m fat! My husband didn’t love me! My parents didn’t love me! I suck in bed! The only person who loves me is my wacky redheaded best friend, Jillian! There’s no way Simon wants me!
Simon: I’m really hot, and I seem to be a borderline case of Asperger’s syndrome! Asperger’s is SO HOT! Plus it sounds like Assburgers when you say it out loud! And women are scared by my giant penis! Also, women don’t like it when I act like a crazy recluse or when I walk away from them mid-sentence so I can run tests in my lab! There’s no way Amanda wants me!”
The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe [Smart Bitches Trashy Books]
From The Huffington Post, in college-related “news”, If Rappers Were Colleges: Analogies You WON’T Find on the SAT
And he’s from Chicago! It’s perfect!