Her

( 10 )

Overview

Elise meets Donald on a flight to Washington, D.C., where he teaches and she edits self-help books. He is dreamy: 6’6” with unflinching green eyes and a proclivity for speaking frankly. Incredibly, they fall in love, get engaged, and start discussing wedding invitations.

And then Elise meets her—Adrienne—Donald’s stunning, leggy ex-fiancée. Adrienne is newly single and planning a move to D.C. Cleavage-baring, half-French, and with a degree from Yale, she seduces men with one ...

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Her

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Overview

Elise meets Donald on a flight to Washington, D.C., where he teaches and she edits self-help books. He is dreamy: 6’6” with unflinching green eyes and a proclivity for speaking frankly. Incredibly, they fall in love, get engaged, and start discussing wedding invitations.

And then Elise meets her—Adrienne—Donald’s stunning, leggy ex-fiancée. Adrienne is newly single and planning a move to D.C. Cleavage-baring, half-French, and with a degree from Yale, she seduces men with one flick of her hair. Worst of all, she and Donald have remained “good friends” since they broke up. Convinced that Adrienne is out to win Donald back, Elise begins stalking both of them obsessively . . . and starts adding up clues to what looks like a brazen affair.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Delightfully frothy. . . . It’s a fun ride.” —Chicago Tribune

“[Zigman] has produced another book of the moment. . . . A fun read.” —New York Daily News

“This is one rampaging hoot of a book, likely to strike a resounding chord. . . . The fun here is in the details.” —The Seattle Times

Her is as addicting as Zigman’s previous work. . . Sharp, hilarious.” —Bookpage

“A howl. . . . As scary as it is funny.” —USA Today

USA Today
In Zigman's zany romantic comedy Her, "ex" marks the spot . . . Her is as scary as it is funny. . . . A howl.
Bookpage
Lively and funny. . . . Her is as addicting as Zigman's previous work. . . Sharp, hilarious.
From The Critics
The heroine of Zigman's third novel (Dating Big Bird, Animal Husbandry) is thirty-four-year-old Elise. Fleeing New York after quitting her job at an adolescent girls' magazine, Elise lands in Washington, D.C., and she meets and falls in love with Donald. As the couple's April wedding date approaches, so does Adrienne, Donald's ex-fiancée. An Ivy League graduate and incomparable beauty, she insinuates herself back into Donald's life by claiming joint custody of the dog she once shared with Donald. She wins over Elise's quirky, loyal girlfriends. She even arranges for a French designer to make Elise's wedding gown, saving her from looking like "some off-the-rack Vera Wang loser." Tired of these manipulations, Elise begins conducting surveillance on Adrienne, hoping to reclaim her man—and her life. Zigman's latest contribution to the "single girl" genre of fiction is filled with funny repartee among hip characters who know their way around designer clothing shops. Zigman's fans will enjoy this entertaining, fast-paced book.
—Susan Tekulve

Publishers Weekly
Zigman's third novel, a wild tale of a woman's "transformation... from bride-to-be to madwoman" is for anyone who's ever felt prewedding jitters and the pangs of obsessive jealousy. Having left her job at a teen magazine in New York City to pursue a quieter life in Washington, D.C., Zigman's narrator, Elise, meets her perfect guy Donald, a reformed bond trader now teaching English at Sidwell Friends on the Delta shuttle. Or her almost perfect guy. Donald's one fault is that he was engaged to Adrienne, and her name crops up in just about every conversation. Though Donald and Elise swiftly fall in love and begin planning their wedding, Elise cannot help obsessing over the brilliant and "horrifyingly gorgeous" former fianc e. But like the paranoiac who is being followed, Elise may have good reason to be jealous. Only months before the wedding, Adrienne takes a job in Washington, D.C., and reinserts herself into Donald's life, fueling Elise's jealousy as well as a slapstick plot having to do with Donald's dog, Elise's wedding dress and liposuction. Zigman is better at caricature than characterization, and her emphatic, read-aloud style sometimes falls flat on the page. Yet some scenes when Donald meets Elise, for instance are fresh and smart and almost perfect, as are many of her one-liners. (May) Forecast: Zigman's Animal Husbandry was made into the movie Someone Like You (starring Ashley Judd), and Her, which smacks of My Best Friend's Wedding and other zany takes on upcoming nuptials, is begging to be sent to Hollywood, too. Zigman who's as zippy with the one-liners in conversation as she is in writing will plug her book on NPR and Today, and these appearances, plus certain attention in women's magazines, will win her new fans. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This slim profile-cum-cautionary tale of an obsessed, driven woman brings Fran oise Sagan's Bonjour, Tristesse to mind, though it's less downbeat. Popular author Zigman (e.g., Animal Husbandry) tells the story of Elise, whose relationship with fianc Donald is put to the test when his aggressive, drop-dead-gorgeous ex-fianc e, Adrienne, decides to relocate to Washington, DC, and looks him up. Immature Donald's not much of a prize he's obsessive to the point of absurdity on the subject of his weight and prone to dropping his trousers when upset. The question for readers, then, is whether they want to read a story, however well written, about annoying, even mean-spirited people. Zigman dissects paranoia and single-Jewish-woman angst perfectly and no doubt will connect with a number of readers, but the tale's attempts at humor are forced and the ending contrived. The moral of this story is that smart women are often dim, and perhaps that's just not quite enough. Recommended for public libraries where there's a demand for women's fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/02.] Jo Manning, Barry Univ., Miami Shores, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A slim, slight, mean-spirited tale of a woman's obsession with her fiance's ex-fiancee, from the author of Dating Big Bird (2000), etc. This might have made an entertaining or even enlightening subplot in a novel with a larger vision, but the limited scope and shallow characterizations will leave readers feeling unsatisfied, and maybe cheated. Elise and Donald, both New York City transplants to Washington, D.C., meet on the shuttle. Donald has left a Wall Street career for a more satisfying life as a teacher; Elise has left a job editing Sassy magazine to become a freelance editor of self-help books while returning to school to become a teacher. A year later, when the two are living together and planning their wedding, Adrienne, Donald's supersophisticated, superhumanly gorgeous ex announces that she's moving to D.C. Elise, who notes that Donald mentioned Adrienne on their first date and has regularly talked about her since, decides that Adrienne wants Donald back. Enlisting her two friends-Fran, the cynical one; and Gayle, the innocent one-in her battle, she proceeds to behave abominably, going through Donald's dresser drawers, listening to his voice mail, stalking Adrienne. Too ugly to be funny, too thick with failed wisecracks to take seriously, the story fails to deliver on any level. The characters are so thinly drawn-Fran is insulting and smokes cigarettes; Gayle likes to eat; and Donald, the object of contention, is little more than there except for his habit of dropping his pants and getting on all fours when happy or angry, behavior that remains unexplained and unexplored. It, like so much else, is so readily sacrificed to yet another cliched laugh-line (New York has better foodthan Washington! Men like large breasts! Jews are pessimistic! Gayle wants to eat again!) that even the mandatory personal-growth denouement (" . . . what happens will happen whether I am watching or not") comes only by means of assertion, not drama. Nothing new, and the recycling is graceless. Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club/Literary Guild alternate selection
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375713224
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/8/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Zigman is the author of Animal Husbandry and Dating Big Bird. She spent ten years working in book publishing in New York. Her pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. She now lives outside Boston.
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Read an Excerpt

1

We were, as it happened, Donald and I, deciding that evening on how we would have our wedding invitations printed--Engraving? Thermography? Lithography?--when Adrienne, Donald's ex-fiancée, called to share her good news: she was leaving New York to accept a job in Washington, where we lived, just after the first of the year.

It was late November.

We were planning an April wedding.

And until that instant when the phone rang and Donald ran to the Caller ID box by the desk and froze, I had been planning–perhaps naively, perhaps idiotically–on taking the high road when it came to Adrienne and her relentless pursuit of friendship with Donald. I had vowed, without any true understanding of just how deep-rooted and, well, virulent, my particular strain of jealousy was, I see now, to put an end to my obsession. My suspicion. My frenzied insecurity. I had vowed, as they say, at long last, to get a grip.

On my demons.

On my nemesis.

On her.

Clearly this was wishful thinking on my part; a momentary lapse of delusional optimism (quite common, I'd read, with most brides-to-be), for nothing of the sort–maturity, acceptance, suffering in silence–was in the cards.

Especially now that she–Adrienne–would be living, as it were, in our backyard.

We had been staring intently at three pieces of Crane's Ecruwhite Kid Finish stationery stock that I'd managed to sneak out of Neiman Marcus's sample book as "souvenirs"–the salesman, stout, balding, moist, had excused himself to take a phone call from an important customer: "And will this be a surprise celebration for the Chief Justice?" (This was, after all, Washington.) The three sample invitations were identical except for the method of printing (which is why I had lifted them: to better understand the hefty price differential) and the surely fictional inviters and betrotheds (Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stewart Evans request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Katherine Leigh to Mr. Brian Charles Jamison. . . . Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Fields, III, request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Tiffany Jane to Mr. Phinneas Welch. . . . Our joy will be more complete if you will share in the marriage of our daughter Blah blah blah to Mr. Blah blah blah.). Running our fingers slowly and carefully over the print on each card; holding them up to the light; sniffing them, even (my suggestion), yielded nothing. We were failures in the study and appreciation of fine printing techniques.

"Okay, I give up," Donald said, throwing the invitation he was holding down onto the table and leaning back in his chair until its joints creaked ominously. "Which is which?"

"Beats me." Neiman's had, I explained, not been kind enough to reward my little theft by providing me the answers on the back of each like a set of helpful flash cards.

Donald brought his chair abruptly forward, sat upright, and yawned passionately. He stretched his arms across the table, pushing the sample invitations aside as he did, and reached for my hands.

"Honey?" he said languidly.

"What?" I said flatly.

"May I speak frankly?"

"Must you?"

Had he ever spoken any other way? Couldn't we, just once, I wondered, get through some task (eating dinner, washing dishes, having sex) without his need to speak frankly?

"Fine. Speak," I said, waving my hand, giving up. Relieved now to have license to speak his mind (a technicality: he spoke his mind quite freely without my permission, as you'll see), he smiled broadly, then brought his shoulders up in a fake cringe, as if to indicate that he felt just terrible about what he was going to say–even though, I knew, he didn't.

"I'm bored," he said, finally, his confession a guilty pleasure (he was a true Catholic, through and through). "I have to be honest, I'm having a hard time caring"–broad smile, shoulders up, fake cringe–"about how the invitations get printed. I mean, why are we doing this?"

I couldn't have been more bored myself, but I wouldn't have admitted it for the world. Instead, I let my mouth sag slightly into a sad pout.

"Doing what?" I asked. "Getting married or discussing the invitations?"

The phone rang.

"Discussing the invitations, of course," he said. He reached to give my hands a reassuring little squeeze but I withheld them for effect. "I want to get married."

The phone rang again.

"Because." I was about to explain how costly engraving was compared to the other options and how since we couldn't tell the difference anyway, we could, with a completely clear conscience, opt for the cheapest method of the three–lithography–but I was too distracted by the third ring of the telephone. On the beginning of the fourth ring he rose from the dining room table where we'd been sitting, took three steps over to the desk, leaned across it, turned back to look at me, and cringed–this time for real.

"It's Adrienne."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Interviews & Essays

A conversation with Laura Zigman, author of Her
Q: Her, like your previous novels, takes a very funny approach to the common (and painful) lack of trust between men and women. How did you get the idea for the new novel?
A: The idea came from the shock of meeting my fiancé's ex for the first time. She was very attractive -- hideously, grotesquely attractive, in fact. The kind of attractive where you want to shoot yourself and die. Of course, the huge disparity between her extreme attractiveness and my extreme unattractiveness on the day we met may have had something to do with the fact that she was wearing a push-up bra and I was wearing a parka.
After telling and retelling this story of the push-up-bra-parka meeting a hundred times and seeing the horror in people's faces (especially women's faces), I knew that I was on to something. Everyone has a story about the one ex in their spouse's past that completely unhinges them.
Q: Why is it that people -- men and women alike -- are so unnerved by beauty. Can't we get past this?
A:
You can blame it on that nebulous enemy -- the mass media -- but the truth is people are naturally obsessed with beauty, sex, comparative attractiveness. What's so unnerving and insecurity-provoking I think, is not simply physical perfection (the perfection, for instance, of the cleavage I witnessed that day when I met my fiancé's ex), but by the mysteries and vagueries of attraction. Some people just have "it" -- whatever "it" is (sex appeal, basically). And some people don't.

Q: Do you think women are more susceptible than men to feeling jealous?
A:
Yes. In theobsessively-consumed-with deeply-neurotic non-violent-stalking arena there is absolutely no comparison: women beat men, hands down.

Q: No one in
Her acts heroically. Donald knows his insensitive doting on his ex unnerves Elise; Elise clearly can't give her future husband the benefit of the doubt; Elise's friends abandon her when she needs them most; and the trouble-causing ex plays the card she knows she holds and makes everyone crazy. Who's the good guy here?
A: That's kind of the point, I guess. That women aren't saints, and men aren't the devil. Which isn't to say that men are saints and women are the devil. We're all capable of bad behavior in relationships.

Q: Isn't the character of Fran based on a real person in Washington, D.C.? Is she really that mean? And that funny?
A:
"Fran" is actually Nancy Pearlstein, a good friend of mine in Washington who has an unbelievably amazing (and needless to say, expensive) store called "Relish." Back before I had a baby, when I was single, and I still had time to dress decently and groom myself regularly, I did quite a bit of shopping at her store. But then I stopped. Not just because nothing in her store fit me anymore and I wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway, but because if she thinks you’re not doing justice to her clothes, she’ll let you have it. I couldn't take the berating anymore. I mean, sometimes the truth hurts too much.

Q: So now that you've moved from DC to Boston, do you have a new fashion diva to go to in time of need? (Or are you still stealing away to New York for emergencies?)
A:
Since, as Nancy would say, "I go nowhere and do nothing," my need for nice clothes has been dramatically reduced. That said, there is an amazing store right here in Newton where I live and in Cambridge, called "Tess." It's just like Nancy's store, only Tess isn't as mean.
Q: Your books are very funny. How difficult is it, writing comedy?
A:
It takes a long time to trust your voice, to talk yourself into the idea that you know what you are doing. This is best accomplished, I think, by tricking yourself: you tell yourself what a genius you are even though, deep down, you know you're a giant loser. The problem is, you don't want to start thinking you're too great, because then you get too comfortable; too soft. You get tone deaf and you stop being able to tell when what you're writing is really, really bad.
Q: What was it like to see your first novel, Animal Husbandry, made into a film? Were you happy with the movie?
A: It was a complete thrill. Especially thrilling was the fact that they put Ashley Judd's head on my body for the movie posters (she has kind of a weight problem, you know; I was glad to help out). And yes, I was very happy with the movie. That's not to say, of course, that there weren't things I would have changed or done differently. Like, for starters, I probably would have kept the original title, Animal Husbandry, instead of changing it to something like, Someone Like You. My "readers" (both of them -- my parents) disliked that the most. And the fact that it wasn't fair to have an actress as unattractive and homely (and chubby) as Ashley Judd playing me. But I'm certainly not complaining. People have far worse problems than not liking every single thing about the movie adaptation of their novel, right?
Q: Her is being made into a movie as well, right?
A: I hope so. Julia Roberts’ production company, Shoelace Productions, bought it for Revolution Studios, and Wendy Wasserstein is writing the screen adaptation. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Q: Tell us a little about your days in book publishing.
A:
I've been advised by my legal counsel and psychiatric professionals not to discuss that period of my life without supervision and sedation.
Q: Was being a book publicist really so awful? It seems sort of sexy, or at least like it would provide good cocktail conversation.
A:
I would say if crawling around on your hands and knees on your office floor until two in the morning stuffing Jiffy Bags when you're thirty-three sounds sexy, then, well, publishing is a very, very, very sexy business.
Q: What's next?
A:
It depends. If this book doesn't work, I might be begging Knopf for my old job back....
From the Hardcover edition.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Read for the fun of it

    A fun look at just how completely neurotic someone can become when they let irrational fears take over their life. Elise was a complete lunatic when some good old fashioned conversation and honesty would have solved the problem. But then again it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun to read. Her is a great look at what not to do in a relationship and more fun to read than a self-help book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Jealous woman goes too far

    What turns an ordinarily self-confident attractive woman into a suspicious, lying, sneaking stalker? For twenty-something freelance book editor Elise, it's hearing that her fiance's ex-fiance is moving to town and wants to be neighbors in "Her."
    To be fair, Elise's fiance Donald mention Adrienne, his ex-, the first time they met. He told her all about Adrienne. He was venting on a plane ride where they happened to be seatmates. Elise thought Donald was cute and overly tall at 6' 6", however didn't really think much more about him until they both actually showed up a week late at a coffeeshop date they had suggested during the plane ride.
    Hitting it off immediately, things went quickly from there. Both having recently moved from New York City to Washington, D.C., they had a lot in common. Donald is a teacher at a private school, Elise works from home editing books her best friend sends her on a freelance basis.
    Fortunately, when Adrienne announces she's moving to D.C., for work and wants Donald to show her around the city, Elise's work-at-home schedule allows her plenty of time to go through Donald's old pictures, his computer, his pockets, his phone, anything she can think of to get more information on Adrienne and what she really wants from Donald. Instead of planning for their wedding, Elise finds herself frequently sidetracked by stalking.
    Adrienne is beautiful, busty, smart, rich and well-connected. Elise can't figure out why Donald and she aren't still together, until Donald admits that it's Adrienne that broke up with him. Then, on several of Elise's stalking expeditions, she finds Donald's car in Adrienne's driveway during school hours, or sees them walking down the street together. When she asks Donald how his day was, he fails to mention his time spent with Adrienne. This kicks Elise's stalking into high gear.
    Certainly most women would be insecure to have their boyfriend/fiance's ex- in the picture, especially if she's as seemingly perfect as Adrienne. The hijinks that Elise gets into over this situation, however, are not always funny, mostly pathetic. She can't seem to pull herself together no matter how reassuring Donald is, to the point where she almost loses him. This is a decent chick lit story, that is relatable to a point, but after that it's just lunacy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2004

    Utter Disappointment

    The unrealistic, stalker-esque characterization of Elise left a great deal to be desired. The plot developed slowly and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Momentary visions of high school drama were evoked as I thumbed through the pages of this novel...only those recollections were real-life, believable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2003

    Largely disappointing

    This was a story that could have been told in less than half the space used. Laura Zigman fills the story with lots of meaningless mental chatter. It wouldn¿t have been so bad had I cared about these characters, but I didn¿t. They are two dimensional and as I saw the central character, Elise, make up far-fetched and incriminating explanations for things she doesn't understand, I simple didn¿t care about her mental anguish. Had I not spent $12 on this book, I would have stopped reading after the first few chapters. My only consolation is that, having read the book, I can record my disappointment in this public forum and possibly spare others from the same waste of time and money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2002

    Not worth the time

    I thought this book was a waste of time. The only reason I made myself finish it was because it was selected by my book club. I wanted to smack Elise for not trusting Donald (shallow as he is) or believing she deserved his love. It was a very predictable book and went on way too long.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2002

    Yikes!

    I loved Laura Zigman's previous works, and I was hooked with this one, too. Although, Elsie's character scared me a bit! Even though I think we all have moments in our relationships where we are insecure, she takes it to an extreme. I definitely would classify her as a 'stalker girlfriend'. She is lucky that Donald was as forgiving as he was...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2002

    Not worth the paper it's printed on

    The main character is mean-spirited and irrational, but not in an entertaining way. I forced myself to carry on until page 127 in hope that the book might redeem itself(it didn't). Gratefully, it's a library book and not a waste of my money, but sadly my time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    A reader from NYC

    I found myself a little annoyed with how insecure Elise could be. Granted she is very worried about losing her fiance (Donald) to his very beautiful ex-fiance, but her actions get a little 'out of control'. This book basically puts you inside the mind of a compulsive and jealous stalker girlfriend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2002

    FUNNY AND TRUE

    When a woman at long last finds Mr. Right who among us will not admit to a tad of possessiveness and from time to time a touch of the green eyed monster upon hearing of one of his former girlfriends? Precious few (and they're probably not telling the truth). Fanatic obsession is quite another thing. That's not funny - but it is in Laura Zigman's latest. Elise has found Donald and vice versa. Thank goodness, as 38-year-old Donald and 34-year-old Elise are survivors, between the two of them there are 'nearly eight decades of failed relationships, dashed hope, aborted dreams.' Now, they are soon to be wed. Enter the obsession. It starts out innocently enough (as many obsessions do) with a surreptitious prowl through Donald's desk, a search for a photo of Adrienne, his former fiancé. Horror of horrors: she looks just like her name sounds: over the top gorgeous. Even worse, the goddess is returning to town and Donald has invited her to dinner. As he says, they have remained good friends. Who would believe this? Certainly not Elise. Nonetheless, she takes many deep breaths and offers to pick Adrienne up at the airport. For support she takes along her best friend who rather than bolstering Elise promptly falls under Adrienne's spell. Can Donald still find happiness with a manic, unhinged bride to be? Can Elise believe that Donald truly wants her when she fails so miserably in comparison to Adrienne? Read the comic but truthful 'Her' and find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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