Shopgirl: A Novella

Shopgirl: A Novella

3.9 130
by Steve Martin

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ISBN-10: 0786891076

ISBN-13: 2900786891077

Pub. Date: 09/28/2006

Publisher: Hachette Books

From the actor, comedian, and New York Times bestselling author comes a bittersweet story of modern day love and romance.One of our country's most acclaimed and beloved entertainers, Steve Martin is quickly becoming recognized as "a gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic" (Elle). A frequent contributor


From the actor, comedian, and New York Times bestselling author comes a bittersweet story of modern day love and romance.One of our country's most acclaimed and beloved entertainers, Steve Martin is quickly becoming recognized as "a gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic" (Elle). A frequent contributor to both The New Yorker and the New York Times as well as the author of the New York Times bestseller Pure Drivel, Martin is once again poised to capture the attention of readers with his debut novella, a delightful depiction of life and love. The shopgirl is Mirabelle, a beautiful aspiring artist who pays the rent by selling gloves at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus. She captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy, lonely businessman. As Ray and Mirabelle tentatively embark on a relationship, they both struggle to decipher the language of love--with consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking. Filled with the kind of witty, discerning observations that have brought Steve Martin incredible critical success, Shopgirl is a work of disarming tenderness.

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Shopgirl 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 129 reviews.
margieb More than 1 year ago
This offbeat romance was delightful. Mr. Martin's writing style is fresh and engaging. The book was a quick and easy read, but there was excellent character development. It was laugh out loud funny in parts, but also very poignant. I frequently found myself re-reading certain lines because I loved the unique way in which they were written. It is intelligent and does not have the pat ending of many other light romance stories. It is probably more accurately described as a novella than a book, but the length seemed just right for the story. I look forward to reading more stories by Steve Martin if they are as sharp, witty and quirky as this one.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Shopgirl is an amusing character study. Mirabelle, a 28 year old, is kind of stuck in a post-college pre-career limbo. She gets involved with two different men; Ray Porter, a millionaire in his 50's and Jeremy, a 20 something who still acts like a teenager. Each of these men have faults as well as redeeming qualities. Mirabelle gets her heart broken but in the end, she finds happiness. Shopgirl has truly hilarious episodes. It has a more somber side though when we see the effects of giving yourself totally to someone only to have them take a tiny piece of you. I really like these characters, they are quite quirky. Overall, Shopgirl is an entertaining novella but I enjoyed the movie more.
LovesPrint More than 1 year ago
it's beautiful. read it. Based on how much I loved this book, I bought The Pleasure of my Company, and An Object of Beauty; his gentle humor in the event of ridiculous circumstance is what I keep coming back for. He reminds me of a modern-day Somerset Maugham.
Brooke_Dawn More than 1 year ago
The perspective that the book was written in was very interesting. The story was short, but mostly to the point. I would be interested to see what happened to the characters down the road. In my opinion, the story could have had more to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really love this book. I have read it three times now, and each time, I take something new from it and build a deeper understanding of the characters. I recommend this book to everyone I know! And please, read the book before you watch the movie! The book, as always, is so much better than the film.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book over the summer and I read it again later on. I enjoyed it both times. The story just keeps building as the book continues and it also diminishes. Who would know that a life without love is no life at all. This book overall made me realize that sometimes it better not to force things. Let fate take its own course. Oh and about the know the book is always better so dont criticize just enjoy :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed Steve Martin's work -- on TV or in movies he always made me laugh, often with his gifted physical humor, but just as often with his dry, witty observations. Martin's best work has always been that which he wrote himself, so with that in mind I decided to read Shopgirl before watching the movie. The story revolves around a classic love triangle situation -- shy, awkward young girl attempts to choose between two suitors, the older rich man who is also emotionally distant, and the young fella who hasn't quite gotten his life in order. Although Shopgirl is a character-driven story, it is ironic that the characters are little more than stereotypes (besides the above, there is also the shallow young vain girl, and the emotionally withdrawn Vietnam Veteran dad, to name a couple). Everyone has a story arc in which they mature and grow in exactly the ways we expect. Martin's prose is distant and withdrawn, often choosing to describe actions, thoughts and conversations rather than show them occurring ('show, don't tell' is often the editor's plea to young writers, and Martin could have used more of that advice). I suppose I should comment on Martin's witty remarks, which populate much of the first half of the novella before the tone turns more serious. Sarcastic asides pepper the early pages, as though this was merely a collection of Martin's observations of life in Beverly Hills rather than an attempt at a story. For example: 'In Beverly Hills, young men, searching for young women who remind them of their face-lifted mothers, are stranded and forlorn in a sea of natural-looking twenty-five-year-olds.' Martin should be above such petty snobbery, yet he sinks to it often. I found myself depressed after finishing, so I suppose the story and characters may have some emotional weight after all. But, frankly, I expected better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this a couple months before the movie was to be released having heard great things about it, but I was definitely disappointed. The story didn't really captivate me, the characters were weakly developed, and it was just depressing overall. I can see the kind of dispirited, witty, intellectual novella Martin was aiming for, but I don't think he quite hit the mark. Honestly, I only continued reading expecting it to get considerably better somewhere, but I was pretty much bored throughout the whole book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one I had wanted to read for awhile. I was very interested in seeing the way Steve Martin would write. Although this book was a little graphic and very intense in some parts, in a odd way, really enjoyed watching the main chracter Mirabelle 'grow up'. I wouldn't say it was the best book I've ever read, but I would recommend it. I t was very compelling and a psychological way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got the book for my Eng class, and I had to write a paper on it. Right from the beginning the book kept me addicted. Some would say that it's a simple book, but the book is about a girl's life and journey to self-discovery, wh/ is really entertaining. I would recommend it to anybody that just wants to read something entertaining and funny at the same time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big Steve Martin fan and maybe the movie will be better than the book. A bunch of one dimesional men and women that judge each other by the clothes they wear. There is only one funny moment in the book. The rest of it is a feeble attemplt to define these stereotypical characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, Martin's prose is well constructed and his observations insightful...but also so depressing. I'd waited a long time to read this, looking forward to enjoying it. Sigh. And I can see why the movie will be rated 'R'. Can't anyone write an inteligent, mature novel (or novella) with using schoolboy descriptions?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book a few months ago and finally sat down and read it, in two days. It shows you how people are flawed and how people may not fully understand the harm that they do to each other, how self-esteem plays a factor. But I enjoyed the main character's journey to self-discovery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a variety of different books generally to fill the hour commute each way to/from work. This was not what I expected, but still a good read. Not a book to read if you are looking for humor from Steve Martin. It is a sort of poignant story about the dating scene and the search for love from 4 interwoven stories. The tone is low-level throughout, a smooth read that is over before you know it. While it does not have the upbeat happy ending that I enjoy, there is something to say about the depiction of a good ending to the wrong relationship. I was pleasantly surprised by this non-traditional novella by Steve Martin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Shopgirl' does have its humorous moments, but it's not classic Martin. Rather, it's a darker brand of reality (if one considers LA to be reality). Martin's first full-length fiction book is as fully developed as the premise is original. Martin updates the age-old love triangle consisting, in his tale, of Mirabelle, a lonely young girl in need of true love; Ray Porter, a well-off older man exploring the ways of women; and Jeremy, a young convenient 'knight,' although he's hardly the shining-armor type. The title character is Mirabelle, 28, who moved to California with dreams of a 'real' life but instead finds herself dependent on a myriad of anti-depressants and working at Neiman Marcus to pay off college loans. Her void in social interaction parallels her life outside of work. A sex-crazed girl in the perfume department seemingly foils Mirabelle at one point, but isn't given enough description or time to develop. Martin's prose is bland and overly descriptive. He does not provide enough depth or description in character development but goes well beyond when analyzing day-to-day life and characters' appearances and actions. This style occasionally impedes the flow of the story, but overall it enriches the text and forces the reader to pay more attention to one's unconscious observations throughout the daily routine. He accomplishes this with an omniscient narrator and thus lends a unique angle to the story. One technique, which Martin developed well but failed to use often enough, was his original dialogue. Like the great description of Ray's goal of getting into bed without a commitment, and Mirabelle's stereotypical interpretation of that as commitment and love. The novel is too short to develop more than the superficial plot of love triangle. Martin is clearly new to the genre and his novella leaves something to be desired. But he has the mark of a talented observer, and I hope he will develop this in another work with a less convenient turn of events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is sweet and sad, funny yet sorrowful. Meet Mirabelle, shopgirl and artist. Meet her sometime boyfriend, Jeremy, and meet Mr. Ray Porter, the fifty-something man she¿s also dating. The story isn¿t your run-of-the-mill romance in Los Angeles (and to quote the book, the city where practically everything is fake), but what romance should be? This book is a very quick read filled with characters you could imagine meeting, knowing, liking, and rooting for. There was, however, a specific event mentioned and questions were raised about Mirabelle¿s father that Mr. Martin doesn¿t clear up at the end that either could have been left out altogether or tidied up. All in all, a very good read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read another book by the creative and funny Steve Martin, but skip this one. He can do better. In Shopgirl a well-meaning lonely rich guy in his fifties enjoys a relationship and casual sex with a 28 year old. On various occasions he tries vaguely and unsuccessfully to make it clear to her that this could not develop into a long term relationship. The relationship goes around and around: She is in denial about being hurt, and he is in denial about hurting her. There are some clever art, insights, and descriptions here and there about loneliness that I could relate to. Overall, however, I would not recommend this book for many reasons. None of the main characters take chances in their lives. The repeat pattern of denial by a clueless man in his fifties about his and her needs in the relationship seems as if he just landed on this planet. It is hard to believe the change of a minor character from basically the village idiot to a brainy, wise, salesman of high-end audio equipment. The preoccupation of all the characters about fashion is annoying. Mr. Martin is highly talented and I would enjoy reading anything else that had a more believable storyline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shopgirl was one of the best books that I have read in a while, plus to boot it was written by Steve Martin. I felt I could relate to Mirabelle and her life. She see's how the other half lives, but just wants to be happy in her own world. She finds a man her age who could really care less, and then she finds the "older man". She doesn't base her self on the men she dates, but lets them hold importance in her life. A great coming of age story. I only wish that quality writing like this came around more often.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all time favorite books. The simplicity of this book is what makes it so wonderful. At times, yes, it is funny, but not like many might think. I think some people purchase this book looking for typical 'funny/witty/joking Steve Martin' and those people will be let down. This is a book of rare beauty, describing an ordinary woman, in ordinary situations. What makes this book so great is how Steve Martin can take the everyday and turn it into a work of art simply by putting the words in order. The book reads very fast and the characters are very real each with their own unique, realistic flaws. This book would have been published with or without Steve Martins celebrity, he is a brilliant writer and I hope that he continues to write.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was captivated by this book from cover to cover...beautiful, simple, and all too real.. It makes me miss the Ray of my youth and appreciate my Jeremy -- and myself! Praise the author for creating a perfect imperfect heroine, and beautiful all too real men for her to love
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Shop Girl and I absolutely love it! Martin's writing technique is like no other. If you think he's funny in his movies, read this book and you'll get a new understanding of him. This book isn't the classic happy ending but more of a twist into a real-life scenario. Looking foward to reading Pure Drivel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished ShopGirl in 3 days, I was so inetested in finding out what would happen next. It is about a girl named Mirabelle, who lives in LA and works at Niemans Marcus. She works at the glove dep't and we all know how borring that can be! She doesn't try to attract too many guys, but when she does, they get busy! The few business she gets turns out to be a change in her outlook on men and how she should reconsider her actions. There is a little problem; Lisa. There are always a few jealous girls hanging around. This is a great book and I was able to relate to it, or at least learn from it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To say I 'loved' or 'enjoyed' this beautiful literary treasure doesn't capture the haunting beauty and lyrical sentences which permeate this novella. I was mezmerized and deeply touched by this book. Thank God Mirabella lacks all the shrill, loud, obnoxious qualities that define a woman as 'beautiful' or 'successful' in this harsh, modern world. Some reviewers found this book boring, but I was mesmerized and captivated not only by the characters but the elegant beauty and painful realism of Mr. Martin's writing, not to mention his gentle and laugh-out-loud humorous moments that sprinkle the pages. His uncanny knack for taking our deepest thoughts and feelings and putting them down simply and beautifully truly astounded me. I had no idea he had such sensitivity and insight. It is as if he looked into the deepest recesses of my soul and put them down on paper. Compared to the hundreds of books out there who portray almost all young women as brash, trash-mouthed,spunky or funky,agressive, over-sexed career superwomen who MUST HAVE IT ALL, including the dashing, macho, hunky superhero with perfect abs...UGH! I'll take shy, sensitive Mirabella and the very real Ray Porter any day. This book is a treasure, with its well-rounded, flesh-and-bone characters, wonderful plot, and keen insight into the male and female psyche...all the while keeping us turning page after page, not wanting it to end. Mr. Martin, I hope you write another one. Your book is a treasure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finished reading this novella in one day and when I did, I immediately started reading it again. Martin's writing is terrific. The characters come alive and it is hard not to think about them after putting the novella down. Everyone knows a Mirabelle, Jeremy, or Ray. I only wish that every book is as enjoyable as this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book demonstrates the power of showbiz celebrity. Neither a nobody nor a serious writer would have had the nerve to submit this to an editor. It failed my 30 page boredom threshold, but I continued thinking that I may be missing something. The discussion at the local book club confirmed that I wasn¿t. Weak story, poorly developed characters, and a patronizing, plodding and distant third person narration style. Yes, there were a few witty observations, but then also some gratuitous prurience. This may be enough for a sketch or column, but padding it into a `novella¿ is a bit of a stretch. No doubt the author tired of it too, hence the abrupt ending. I¿m just glad I saved the money by borrowing it from the library. Sorry for being so harsh, but I had just read `Talking it Over¿ and `Love etc.¿ by Julian Barnes. I would suggest all the `glowing reviewers¿ take a look at these to see how a really skilled writer puts himself into his characters shoes.