Customer Reviews for

The Actor and the Housewife

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

This Book is a Woman's Antidote to Life

I picked this book up at the library after loving Shannon Hale's book 'Austenland'. I didn't expect to be as impressed by this book, but I was completely wrong.
This book is every woman's dream: the movie star you've had a crush on since high school comes along by comp...
I picked this book up at the library after loving Shannon Hale's book 'Austenland'. I didn't expect to be as impressed by this book, but I was completely wrong.
This book is every woman's dream: the movie star you've had a crush on since high school comes along by complete chance, and before you know it, you're getting to know little things about this real man (who is also written in your diary and hanging above your bed on posters) and becoming his best friend.
The Actor and the Housewife isn't just a feel-good romance with a writing style that makes you laugh outloud, it's an antidote to lonliness, heartache, sadness, and every other thing that brings us women down. This book left me smiling just because it was such a good story, and to be honest, it made me wonder if maybe, JUST maybe, something like that could one day happen to me.
It's one of the best books I've ever read, and in my eyes, it can't disappoint anyone looking for a romance that we've all wondered about from time to time.

posted by Irish_Nights on July 14, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Angieville: THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE

Becky Jack is a Mormon housewife living in Layton, Utah, pregnant with her fourth child. She has just sold a screenplay to a film agency in LA and is meeting them there to sign the contract, when in walks Felix Callahan--sexy British star of Becky's favorite romantic co...
Becky Jack is a Mormon housewife living in Layton, Utah, pregnant with her fourth child. She has just sold a screenplay to a film agency in LA and is meeting them there to sign the contract, when in walks Felix Callahan--sexy British star of Becky's favorite romantic comedies. The two of them clash right from the start and, despite their visible disdain for one another (and the fact that Felix has long been Becky's movie star crush), they find themselves staying at the same hotel and eating dinner together that night. Becky returns to Utah sure it was some fluke, a fun story to tell the fam, and that she'll never see Felix again. Au contraire, Becky. Turns out Felix hasn't been able to get their abrasive encounter out of his head and the next time he has a layover in Salt Lake City, he turns up to see her and figure out what the deal is. From there these two unlikely characters become the very best of friends. Talk on the phone daily, stay up all night long talking, drop everything to jet off to New York at a moment's notice kind of BFFs. As you might expect, a whole host of factors get in the way of their "friendship," including at times concerned/jealous spouses, their different faiths (or rather Becky's strict one and Felix's utter lack of one), their diametrically opposed lifestyles, etc. Self-proclaimed platonic lovers, these two weather the small and large storms of life as their friendship and story stretches out over a decade and more.

I'll preface my comments by saying I have read all of Shannon Hale's YA books. I love her The Books of Bayern and thought her first adult novel Austenland was a fun, light romp for Austen fans. I expected to like this book just fine. I knew it would be quirky and different and fun. I certainly didn't go in expecting a happy ending because, well, given the subject matter who would? I laughed my way through the first 100 pages because any scene Becky and Felix share sparkles. I even cried. Once. At a scene about 80 pages in or so that was just so real (and a little close to home) it struck me in the gut. However, I felt that the next 250 pages were an uneven roller coaster ride of conflicting emotions, increasingly hard-to-swallow turns of event, and very inconsistent characterizations. Every aspect of the story felt so deliberate and pre-planned that it got in the way of my reading experience. It was an example of too much telling and not enough showing. The narrator and Becky herself told me over and over (and over again) how much she was in love with her solid-as-a-brick-wall husband, how little Felix meant to her compared to Mike, how she would never do anything to jeopardize her marriage, etc. Her actions spoke differently. The actual depiction of her marriage was lukewarm at best. The rock Mike was too vague an image to grasp. Next to Felix he was a mere smudge. Felix clearly meant an inexplicable amount to Becky. And vice versa. These two cannot function properly without each other. They will always be returning to each other. The crystal clear, most evocative, and resonant depictions were of Becky and Felix. And it was simply too difficult for me to buy everything Becky was saying in the face of what she was showing me page after page. And by the time the overwrought, rushed ending arrived I felt so completely jerked around I was unable to deal with the melodrama a moment longer.

posted by Angieville on July 16, 2009

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    Unbelievably entertaining and deliciously unpredictable

    I began this book expecting not to like it (based on one negative review), but committed to reading it in its entirety solely because of my high regard for this author's previous works. At first, its premise seemed too hard to swallow, but at least I wanted to believe. For much of the story I wondered if this story was going anywhere, (and not sure if I trusted where). But soon I was caught up in the funny dialogue, and enjoying myself too much to wonder at its improbability or its objectives.
    I found Becky Jack to be a genuine and likeable character. She's never snobbish about being friends with a star, and she isn't wow'ed by his stardom either (well, just at the very beginning.) Felix is harder to understand or relate to at first, but as the story progresses you get to know him and appreciate him. These characters are not perfect, (you might find yourself shouting at them), but they have their redeeming qualities.
    This book leads you through a broad range of emotions. Sometimes I felt unbearably uneasy. Sometimes I found myself reminiscing about old friends, surprised at how well I could relate. Some parts are cute-romantic. Some parts are gloriously romantic. Some pages of my book are tear stained. Many have quotes underlined. And I haven't laughed so much reading a book since, well maybe ever. (My cheeks hurt a little from grinning too much.)
    I love rollercoasters. Maybe that's why I found this book so delightful.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Leap of Faith

    The Actor and The Housewife is somewhat fanciful, definitely romantic and at times, well the only word that comes to mind is down right perky.

    The thing that intrigued me the most was the fact that Becky was a Mormon. I wondered how the author would portray her and what I would learn about the Mormon faith. Shannon describes Becky's faith to the reader as seamlessly as she describes her personality, right away you know that this is who Becky is, her faith is not just something that she does once a week, it is as much a part of her as her quirky humor and her absolute love for her husband, Mike.

    The premise of the story is that yet to be answered question; can a man and a woman be friends? Shannon takes it a step further begging the question, can two people who are married but not to each other be not only friends but best friends. And suggests that this is a kind of 'best friends at first sight'; a first meeting of kindred spirits.

    If it wasn't for Becky's sweet nature that is 100% pure and for the complete trust and love that her husband Mike has in her, this story would not be believable at all. There are times when the dialogue between Becky and heartthrob, turned best friend Felix, gets down right punchy. But half way through the book there is an unexpected turn of events and what happens next felt very real to me and saved the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    very fun read

    had me laughing and crying. I wasn't expecting this. I love that Shannon Hale is writing more mature book (but I will read anything she writes!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A cute story about friendship and relationships

    As many aspiring screen writers know, selling a screenplay is almost impossible. When Mormon housewife Becky Jack sends in her very first screenplay she's pleasantly surprised when she gets the call that a studio is interested. Becky flies off to Los Angeles and in the offices of the production studio she meets Felix Callahan.

    Felix is the devilishly handsome British actor who Becky has always had a crush on. With nerves and fear bubbling up to the surface Becky can't stop insulting Felix but he's one step ahead of her tosses his own insults right back at her. Surprisingly the banter sparks interest on both sides and they end up having dinner together.

    Afterward, Becky heads home, laughs about the encounter with her husband Mike and goes back to her daily life secretly cherishing the time she spent with Felix. When a layover puts Felix in Salt Lake City he drops in on Becky and a tentative friendship begins between the actor and the housewife. What follows is a twelve year friendship filled with a lot of 'should we', 'can we', 'do you think' and more ups and downs than a roller coaster.

    This book was so sweet. I absolutely loved the relationship between Becky and Felix. They were daring, witty and fun and I couldn't get enough. I think without such witty dialogue I might have enjoyed the book at lot less because situations like this never happen in real life. The ending was a complete surprise but I was definitely satisfied by it.

    The only thing that kept me from rating this a full five stars is the anticipation I felt through most of it. I was constantly thinking that by the next page things were going to take off at break neck speed but the journey was pretty mellow despite the ups and downs of their lives. Overall I highly recommend this one to lovers of contemporary fiction and chick-lit lovers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Funny and enjoyable, but...

    I enjoyed this book. Hale has a wonderful sense of humor, and Felix and Becky's constant banter provides an excellent vehicle for her jokes. The dialogue is silly and often fast-moving-á la 1930s screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, featuring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

    Of course, The Actor and the Housewife isn't all fun and games. Through Becky and Felix, Hale seriously considers the pros, cons, and practicality of mixed friendships among married people. And by "seriously considers" I mean that Becky Jack agonizes about it at least every ten pages. While repetitive, this makes sense as the issue is at the center of the plot as well as of Becky's mind and heart.

    Since Becky Jack is a Mormon, her faith is a focal point of the novel. Hale, also a Mormon, handles this aspect of the novel with grace; rather than feeling forced, Becky's faith comes out as a part of her that she naturally expresses. As a (mainstream) Christian, I do have some differences with the LDS Church, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the novel.

    As an added bonus, due to both Hale's and Becky's beliefs, The Actor and the Housewife is a clean novel. Any swear words or suggestions of smut are there for the realistic portrayal of certain characters.

    All of that being said, I do have a few complaints about the novel; the biggest one being the length. Even as I laughed at jokes and cried at dramatic moments, I wondered when it would finally end. Over and over, not unlike Becky's musings about whether or not having a best guy friend was akin to cheating on her husband.

    On a final note, I was excited about this book: I'm a big fan of Shannon Hale's writing, and the subject matter of The Actor and the Housewife is certainly intriguing. The Actor and the Housewife is Hale's second book for grown-ups. At nineteen, I am technically a grown-up, but I still have mixed feelings toward adult fiction. Last summer, however, I read Austenland, Hale's first adult novel, and loved it. The main characters are significantly older than I am and experiencing aspects of life I won't even get close to for years-and this created no significant obstacle to my enjoyment of the book. Naturally, I expected the adult-ness of Hale's second grown-up novel to behave similarly.

    Unfortunately, this was not the case, and I suspect that middle age and motherhood can only deepen a reader's understanding of the novel. I intend to reread this one years from now and expect to have a different experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Can a married man and a married woman be just friends?

    That is the premise of this book and it is an interesting one. This book starts out very, very funny. I mean, come on, what could a mormon housewife of 4 have in common with a superstar actor from England? But then the book turns interesting and sad and then sort of spiritual. I enjoyed it but you never quite know where it is going.

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