The Not-So-Perfect Man

The Not-So-Perfect Man

4.8 5
by Valerie Frankel

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As far as her family and friends are concerned, Frieda has been the grieving widow for long enough. At 35, she's still (relatively) young, still (adequately) attractive. Her sex drive is very much alive; even Frieda admits she'd like to put it to use again. Besides, she has a son who certainly needs a father figure. With visions of the perfect second


As far as her family and friends are concerned, Frieda has been the grieving widow for long enough. At 35, she's still (relatively) young, still (adequately) attractive. Her sex drive is very much alive; even Frieda admits she'd like to put it to use again. Besides, she has a son who certainly needs a father figure. With visions of the perfect second husband in mind, Frieda's sisters start to send eligible males in her direction.

Big sister Ilene -- herself substantially married -- has found the ultimate unattached catch: a gorgeous, independently wealthy, successful, divorced father, pillar of society and paragon of potential. What more could a single mom ask for? Apparently a lot more than loved ones realize. Frieda's own efforts bear very tasty fruit. Sam is young, talented, devoted, and incredibly sexy -- though broke, only sporadically employed, and clueless about kids. But he makes Frieda feel brand-spanking-new, in a most wonderfully wanton way. When all is said and done, does Frieda really need the "perfect man" ... or the far-from-ideal man who's perfect for her?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As hundreds of romantic comedies have driven home to us, familial matchmaking just doesn't work. And nobody knows it better than Frieda Schast. When the 30-something heroine of Frankel's latest girds up her proverbial loins to hit the dating scene again after the death of her beloved husband, Gregg, her sisters have strong ideas regarding suitable prospects. Ilene, the control-freak executive, is determined that Frieda will have the perfect mate (and father for her young son, Justin): handsome, devoted and above all, successful. Betty, an overweight, wisecracking bookstore clerk, thinks Frieda should put more effort into getting laid than in taking a trip down the aisle. Frieda has fallen for a (much) younger and somewhat feckless actor, Sam Hill, but Ilene sets her up with dashing corporate golden boy David-he's nice, he's responsible, who cares if there's no zing? Meanwhile, Ilene is scrambling to resolve her own marital discord, and Betty has been taken on as a DIY improvement project by a charming temporary co-worker. It looks like chaos all around-and despite the feisty Schast sisters' regular summit meetings, nothing is turning out quite as it should. All of this should be charming, but tissue-thin characters and hackneyed plot twists drag the story down. Loyal fans will flock, but new readers will have to look to Frankel's backlist (The Accidental Virgin; Smart vs. Pretty; etc.) for fun and sparkly spring reading. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Intersecting lives, lonely New Yorkers. Frankel (The Accidental Virgin, 2002, etc.) moves from smart-mouthed singles to miserable marrieds: Frieda Schast, a young widow still wed in spirit to a beloved husband who died of cancer; Ilene, her weight-obsessed sister, unhappily married to portly Peter; Georgia, a disillusioned wife about to shed her confused husband David-in short, a dispirited bunch of typical New Yorkers still looking rather glumly for love. Frieda isn't interested in fooling around with Roger, the entomologist Ilene found under some rock and insists that she date. After all, her late husband Gregg was The One-anybody else is going to be The Two, and making an effort for Roger the Bugman hardly seems worth it. But Ilene is a nagger, nudge, and compulsive fixer-upper, strenuously avoiding her own issues (infertility, for one) by well-intended meddling. Not that anyone is exactly grateful. Betty Schast, the dowdy single sister, works at a chain bookstore and doesn't even want to think about sex, until Earl, an electrician, does something indefinable to her wiring. Frieda, a picture framer, thinks it all over rather numbly as she begins an affair with a younger man, Sam, an actor with commitment issues. How will this affect her suddenly fatherless son Justin? Frieda's therapist advises caution, but wise words are no substitute for the sexual healing that Sam provides. Peter, grappling with his weight problem, is accused by Ilene, who has jealousy issues, of cheating on her with his nutritionist. Segue to Georgia and David's myriad woes, back to mopey Frieda, detour to nutty Betty, pick up where Ilene and Peter left off-yes, love is a minefield, and happiness lies somewhere onthe other side. Strained effort from Frankel, written soon after the untimely death of her own husband. Sadly, it shows.
Booklist on The Accidental Virgin
Praise for The Accidental Virgin: “Stacey Temple’s adventures are often laugh-out-loud funny, making it impossible not to root for Frankel’s plucky, determined heroine.”

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Read an Excerpt

The Not-So-Perfect Man

Chapter One

Thursday, September 5
10:34 A.M.

"I've got the perfect man for you."

"Not another one," said Frieda Schast. "Is that why you came to Brooklyn? To give me the hard sell?"

Ilene, Frieda's older sister by three years, said, "You know I love coming out here. It's practically a trip to the country. I needed the fresh air."

"I'm not a cause," said Frieda.

"You are."


"Just ... 'cause."

Ilene didn't have to explain further. It'd been a year and a month since Frieda's husband died. The day after the deathiversary, Ilene began fixing up Frieda with suitors she'd located, apparently under a rock somewhere.

Ilene said, "He's an entomologist."

"So you did find him under a rock," said Frieda.

The two women sat behind the counter at Frieda's frame store on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Ilene had taken the afternoon off work in Manhattan to make the visit. Despite her annoyance with the topic of conversation, Frieda was grateful for the company.

Frieda asked, "Does he twitch?"

Ilene said, "Not that I know of."

"The last one twitched."

"A tic is not a twitch," said Ilene.

"A tic is when someone tugs his ear if he's nervous, or twirls his hair. I'd even allow a tic to mean incessant blinking or handwringing. But the last one had full-body convulsions every two minutes. I thought I'd have to rush him to the hospital. Or that the force of his seizures would make his head fly off."

"Just as long as you're not exaggerating," said Ilene.

On the counter in front of her, Frieda held a small triptych of a girl on a swing. The photographer had taken the pictures of his daughter, and had carefully selected a three-quarter-inch cherry-wood frame. The girl's dress was red and pretty, and Frieda imagined herself on that swing. She could only guess which sensation was more thrilling for the girl, zooming backward, her hair floating around her head, covering it protectively, or zipping forward, hair blown back, exposing her to the world of the playground.

Frieda reflexively tucked some of her own brown curls behind one ear, leaving the bulk of it to hang down against her cheeks. She knew she'd have to move forward, that it was impossible to backswing indefinitely. Frieda asked, "Have you met this guy? How many degrees of separation are we talking here?"

Ilene said, "He's the brother of Peter's secretary's best friend."

Frieda calculated this information. "That's four degrees."


"Best friend, secretary, Peter, you."

"I'm not counting myself."

"Why not?" asked Frieda.

"We're related," she said. "We shouldn't count Peter, either. You've known him for ten years. He's like a brother to you."

"I'm sure Peter had nothing to do with this," said Frieda of Ilene's husband.

"Peter likes my fixing you up," said Ilene. "He thinks it will distract me from the size of his stomach. But let's not even mention it. Peter's belly is too big a topic to get distracted by."

"It is an immense topic," agreed Frieda.

"It's more than a topic," said Ilene. "It's practically a tropic. Like the tropic of Capricorn. The one that spans the globe?"

"I've read the book," said Frieda.

Ilene said, "His name is Roger. He's a resident professor at the Museum of Natural History. The marriage potential is sky high. He could be The One."

Frieda had already had The One. So Roger Bugman would never be that. At best, he could be The Two. Hard to get worked up about The Two. Nobody ever says, "He's The Two, I just know it!"

Frieda said, "It would be helpful, when we have these conversations, if you could shift the pitch from, 'He's The One' to something like, 'You might have a pleasant dinner with him.' Or, 'He's good practice.' Or, 'He's easy on the eyes.' Or just, 'He's easy.'"

Despite her loss of a husband (which sounded like she'd misplaced him somewhere), Frieda hadn't lost her sex drive. It was just buried in her mental closet. She knew that, at thirty-five, it was unlikely she'd never have sex again. But the idea of getting naked with a complete stranger, having been with the same man for nine years, was intimidating. When she'd met Gregg, she was a dewy twenty-six-year-old. She hadn't any wrinkles then. Nor had her belly been thickened by a pregnancy.

Ilene said, "I can show you his picture."

Frieda felt a sudden flutter of nerves at the threat of coming face-to-photo. "You brought his picture?" she asked. "You're sick, Ilene. There should be a special hospital for people like you."

"His photo and bio are on the museum website," said Ilene. "He's very handsome. And he's the nation's foremost expert on dung beetles."

"No shit," said Frieda.

"Take a look," said Ilene.

"I'm very busy," said Frieda.

"I can see that," said Ilene, pointedly glancing around the store. Not a single customer was among the bins and boxes. Business was slow, but not dangerously so. At the Sol Gallery, Frieda sold original photographs and did custom framing. Photographs were mounted on cardboard, wrapped in plastic, and put in bins for customers to flip through. Frieda priced the photos according to size and subject matter ranging from $5 to $500. Her standard arrangement: The photographer would get 40 percent of the purchase price and she'd keep 60 percent. Retail photography accounted for about 20 percent of her overall business.

Rows and rows of L-shaped frame samples covered the walls by the back counters. They were grouped by medium (wood, metal, etc.), color and size (five-inch gilded ornate maple to quarter-inch fiberglass).

The Not-So-Perfect Man. Copyright © by Valerie Frankel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Valerie Frankel has written over thirty books, including three New York Times bestsellers. Her articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine; Parenting; Self; Glamour; Allure; and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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Not-so-Perfect Man 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
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Maggie_H More than 1 year ago
Cute Book...soo funny...the story is fun!! Valerie Frankel is one of my favorite writers of all times. Her books are gripping from the first page and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Every story has great characters, heartwarming plots, and hilarious dialoge. You'll fall in love with all the characters from the beginning and want to read every book she has ever written. You won't regret this buy!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!!!! It was good read. I read it in like 3 0r 4 days. Very cute. I wish it would have ended a little differently, but i still recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so far superior to 99 percent of the chick-lit out there. The humor and emotion are deep, the characters are real. A must-read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Impressively written and well-crafted story of three sister's intersecting love lives in New York City. It's just packed, too: two makeover stories, three breakups, two reunions, one death, one marriage, one revenge plot, oodles of sexy passages, a touching and funny ending that will leave any reader with a satisfied smile. I cried at the end, but I cry at sappy telephone company ads. Would be a great TV mini-series
Guest More than 1 year ago
Only thirty-five, Widow Frieda Schast, owner of a picture frame store, still feels the loss of her husband Gregg, who died from cancer thirteen months ago. From the deathiversary day that Gregg was interred, Frieda¿s older sister Ilene has felt it is her quest in life to travel from Manhattan to the Brooklyn frontier to find her sibling a husband whether Frieda is interested or not. Her latest find entomologist Professor Roger O¿Leary can only be the ¿Two¿ since Gregg will always be the ¿One¿. Ilene¿s husband Peter Vermillion wants her to stop matchmaking her younger sister. Ilene counters with wanting the overweight Peter to watch what he eats especially that extra cannoli. As she does with Peter, Ilene nags until Frieda is on a date with Roger the Bugman, but Frieda does n.ot even make much of an effort................................... While Frieda¿s other sister spinster Betty may have finally found a man who turns up the juices of her body, actor Sam Hill enters the widow¿s shop to have a review article of a play he performs in framed. Frieda finds the youngster (not even thirty) quite exciting as he offers a sexual healing with no commitment strings................................... THE NOT SO PERFECT MAN is an interesting character study that looks deep into the varying woes of three New York City siblings, the men in their lives, and another couple. The myriad of subplots offer insight into eight living people and the late Gregg is well written, but contains too much baggage to keep track of who suffers from what. Still Valerie Frankel provides a fine relationship tale that showcases love hurts, but anything less is loneliness.............................. Harriet Klausner