Smart vs. Pretty

( 26 )

Overview

Out-of-work urban professional Francesca Greenfield has always known that she was the "smart" sister.Amanda was the soft and lovely one who, from the beginning, had always garnered most of the attention ? and all the dates. Now they've been thrown together in a last-ditch effort to save the family coffeehouse business before it goes permanently down the drain.

In the chaotic misdt of mad promotional schemes and piranhalike next-door competitors, the sisters Greenfield are going ...

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Overview

Out-of-work urban professional Francesca Greenfield has always known that she was the "smart" sister.Amanda was the soft and lovely one who, from the beginning, had always garnered most of the attention — and all the dates. Now they've been thrown together in a last-ditch effort to save the family coffeehouse business before it goes permanently down the drain.

In the chaotic misdt of mad promotional schemes and piranhalike next-door competitors, the sisters Greenfield are going to have to put aside their hard-faught sibling rivalry — and quick! — for the family good.

What happens when a single woman in her early thirties gets stuck living and working with her sister again along with all the insecurities of sibling rivalry?

"From where I stood now, fifteen years out of high school, I knew that smart was more valuable than pretty. For one thing, pretty is available to anyone who has the time, energy, money, and will. And even without exercise or makeup, I considered myself to be serviceably attractive. I elicit a grunt from workmen. Baggers at the supermarket, however, called me ma'am."

Meet Francesca Greenfield, a smart, urban professional suddenly tossed out of her so-so career and into the business of selling coffee alongside her pretty, perky sister Amanda.

But selling coffee is only the start of their worries.

Francesca has always known that she was the smart sister, "though our mother never set us down and said, 'Francesca, we'll call you the smart one.'" Amanda was soft and lovely from the beginning and had always garnered most of the attention-and all of the dates. Now they've been thrown together in a last-ditch effort to save the family business before it goes permanently down the drain.

As for the coffeehouse itself, well, there's rarely a dull moment. Consider the piranha-minded next-door franchise and the brainstorms of one nearly psychotic marketing manager for starters. And who can forget about love? Or at least sex. Thanks to a promotional contest, it's not long before Amanda is looking to explore the aura of a buff mountain climber while Francesca considers shedding more than her inhibitions with a J. Crew model.

The stakes are rising. It's time to find out if smart or pretty knows best, whether the distinction really suits either one of them, and if the Greenfield sisters can actually live happily ever after.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"Ask any woman who has a sister: Are you the smart one or the pretty one? She'll have an answer." This is the opening sentence of Smart vs. Pretty, a novel of sibling rivalry and so much more.

Some sisters love their sisters. Some don't. Loving or not, the relationship between sisters is undeniably a difficult one. Francesca (Frank) Greenfield knows this all too well. She is the smart one. After years of somewhat fancy Manhattan media jobs, she finds herself in her native Brooklyn, living and working with her younger sister, Amanda, the pretty one, in the house they grew up in. Their job: to run the family café, Barney Greenfield's, after their parents' untimely deaths.

Living with her sister is hardly a blast for Frank. Not only do they not get along very well, but they have nothing in common. "Newly thirty-three, Frank saw her spinsterhood flung out before her like a worn beach blanket. Amanda, twenty-nine, who'd never had a relationship that lasted longer than two months, couldn't understand her sister's preoccupation with the romance of loneliness." Smart vs. Pretty is full of ruminations like this, funny and sad.

Frank, being smart and practical, also has to live with the fact that the sisters are one mortgage payment away from losing their heritage. The Starbucks-like Moonburst a block away is stealing all of their business. Amanda doesn't pay overly much attention to such matters, preferring to trust the I Ching to tell her what to do. "The I Ching was Amanda's secret weapon, her way of testing her instincts or reinforcing her doubts." Frank finds this hopelessly silly.

One day an icy blonde girl named Clarissa wanders into Barney Greenfield's and alters the course of the sisters' lives. She is a student at the Stern School of Business at NYU, majoring in marketing and public relations. Clarissa decides to turn their cafe around as her final school project. Frank can't stand Clarissa and finds herself jealous of the budding friendship between Amanda and Clarissa. Still, she allows Clarissa to come in and reinvent the place -- new furniture, new gimmicks like a Mr. Coffee of the Week contest, and even a new name: Romancing the Bean.

Suddenly the plot of this book takes a turn for the unexpected. These catty sisters find themselves in the middle of a coffee murder scandal that splashes them across the cover of The New York Post with a headline reading: "Coffee King Found Dead -- Pretty Proprietress Prime Suspect." Amanda's picture goes with that headline, of course. Although it is not initially apparent, the scandal turns out to be a good thing. It takes the sisters' minds off of the pettier things in their lives for long enough that they sort through their sister issues (better than they had before) as they work together to solve the murder.

Smart vs. Pretty is a wild, funny read. What begins as a sad but familiar tale of sibling quibbling morphs into a page-turning whodunit mystery. Along the way the girls fall in and out of bed (or at least think about falling in and out of bed) with a few guys, including a J. Crew model. They may even fall a little in and out of love. Most importantly, as their story progresses, they fall a little in love with each other. Frankel has no fear of the happy ending, and she writes this one with a flourish. Everything really does work out in this end.

—Alexandra Zissu

Library Journal
Francesca and Amanda Greenfield have inherited the family coffee shop after the death of their parents - but now that a large chain coffee bar has moved in next door, the sisters business is days away from failure. Enter New York University business student Clarissa O'MacFlanahanagan, who offers to come up with a market strategy that will save the shop (plus the sisters's aparment above it) and provide Clarissa with her final school project. Desparate, Francesca (the smart one) and Amanda (the pretty one) agree, only to find events rapidly spiraling out of their control. Competing for the attention of their new friend and savior, neither woman is able to see that there is more Clarissa than meets the eye. Light , amusing, and generally entertaining, this is basically a story of two single sisters looking for love and business success in Brooklyn Heights. It will be giving nothing away to say that they find both. Readers of Jane Heller's amusing novels will enjoy this fifth novel by Mademoiselle editor Frankel. For most popular fiction collections.-Elizabeth Mary Mellett, Brooline P.L., MA
Library Journal
Francesca and Amanda Greenfield have inherited the family coffee shop after the death of their parents - but now that a large chain coffee bar has moved in next door, the sisters' business is days away from failure. Enter New York University business student Clarissa O'MacFlanahgan, who offers to come up with a market strategy that will save the shop (plus the sisters' apartment above it) and provide Clarissa with her final school project. Desperate, Francesca (the smart one) and Amanda (the pretty one) agree, only to find events rapidly spiraling out of their control. Competing for the attention of their new friend and savior, neither woman is able to see that there is more to Clarissa than meets the eye. Light, amusing, and generally entertaining, this is basically a story of two single sisters looking for love and business and success in Brooklyn Heights. It will be giving nothing away to say that they find both. Readers of Jane Heller's amusing novels will enjoy this fifth novel by Mademoiselle editor Frankel. For most popular fiction collections.
Madamoiselle
Valerie Frankel tackles the twenty-/thirtysomething period in SMART VS. PRETTY.. This is the story of two sisters - Amanda, the spacey beauty, and the blunter, brainer Francesca - who struggle to save their coffee shop (while fighting family typecasting) after chain cafe Moonburst (get it?) invades their nabe. The sister's solution - a contest that stocks the shop with "hot, young guys" - unfolds in pages of hip banter so funny you'll spew your latte.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380805426
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Frankel has finally created a website for herself. She certainly took her time about it, but now proudly displays her thoughts, reviews and pictures at www.valeriefrankel.com. Besides writing and getting good use out of her new digital camera, Frankel plays Snood, stares at the wall, goes running and prepares healthy yet satisfying meals for the whole family. She has eight novels to her credit (including Smart vs. Pretty, The Accidental Virgin, and The Not-So-Perfect Man), and four non-fiction books, including 2004's co-authored sex guide, The Best You'll Ever Have: What Every Woman Should Know for Getting and Giving Knock-Your-Socks-Off Sex. Her magazine articles appear in O, Parenting, Self, Glamour, Allure and the New York Times, among others. She continues to live in Brooklyn with her two daughters and two cats, and was recently married to devilishly handsome opera singer Stephen Quint.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ask any woman who has a sister. Are you the smart one or the pretty one? She'll have an answer. There may be fine distinctions, but eventually each sister knows well which role her parents assigned to her when she was too small to carve distinctions for herself Of course, pretty implies not -smart -- and vice versa -- to a child. And some kids have a hard time swallowing compliments mixed with shortcomings. Especially the smart ones.

Sisters Amanda and Francesca Greenfield sat next to each her on bar stools inside their co-owned Brooklyn Heights cam, sipping their drinks and staring at the busy city street Which sister was pretty and which was smart would seem plainly obvious to any stranger, though both women shared a certain gray mood, despite the crisp midJanuary brightness of New York.

"What about that one?" asked Amanda, pointing at a tall, thin man on the street, bundled tightly in a black coat and brown scarf. "No hat, advertising nonbaldness. Lightfooted walk of a man without problems."

"Unless he's trying to disguise them," responded Francesca, known to everyone as Frank, her nickname since birth (not that the Greenfield parents wanted their oldest child to be a boy -- a question that had been raised many times over the years). "His bounciness could be a cover for his disillusionment."

The man in question stumbled slightly as he walked past the coffee bar, his footing perhaps disturbed by the two women inside examining him like a moth on a pin.

Frank said, "Right there! Did you see that? Lightfooted, my ass. He crumbles under scrutiny. A clear sign of something to hide." She paused to sip. "He's cheating on hiswife."

Amanda shook her head slightly. "Unmarried. I ran tell by the footwear. No woman would let her husband leave the house in those loafers. How he dresses is possibly the one thing you can change about a man."

"Look," Frank said, pointing at him openly now. "He's going into Moonburst." The man with bad shoes had to fight his way into Moonburst, the franchise coffee bar. It'd opened right next door to the sisters' café, Barney Greenfield's, two years ago. Frank swiveled on her bar stool away from the street to face inside her floundering place of business. Exposed brick, polished wood floors, ceiling molding. The street level shop had once been the parlor floor of a Victorian brownstone. In its time as a coffee bar and before, the space had accommodated thousands of guests, the walls holding inside each brick the sounds of a hundred years of sitting and talking. That day only two customers were there. just two. In the five seconds it took Frank to turn back around, ten customers had come and gone from Moonburst with a couple more waiting to enter. Frank sighed the dry exhale of radiator heat.

The younger sister, picking up on Frank's glumness, said, "Here's another one." She tilted her head out the window at another pedestrian. "Blond, small hands. Hardset cast to his face shows determination, intense ambition. Red lips, passionate by nature, but reserved unless he's with a woman he truly loves."

"Can we stop?" asked Frank. "This game depresses me."

Neither sister was currently with a boyfriend or even casual fling. Hadn't been for a while. Frank's last boyfriend, Eric, the circulation manager at the magazine she used to work for, had left her abruptly after a three-year relationship, having woken up one beaming July morning with the sudden realization that Frank's "chronic mild discontentment" wouldn't be a healthy emotional environment for his future children. Frank suspected, after two years now of postrelationship hindsight, that any woman Eric dated would be left mildly discontented. Who wouldn't be with his dreary adherence to routine? Amanda, at the time, advised Frank that relationships between two people with similar characteristics tended to stall because they had nothing to learn from each other on their karmic quest

Newly thirty-three, Frank saw her spinsterhood flung out before her like a worn black blanket Amanda, twentynine, who'd never had a relationship that lasted longer than two months, couldn't understand her sister's preoccupation with the romance of loneliness. Amanda's remedy refrain, "just go out and meet someone new," struck Frank like a bitch slap, even though she knew her sister meant no harm. Amanda never meant harm, though she could dole it out unwittingly with ease -- a veritable venomous rose.

One of the customers, a cranky old woman the sisters knew as Lucy, waved a liver -- spotted hand in their direction. "Refill," she demanded. She'd had three cups already. Frank hesitated A couple of refills were expected. But a bottomless pot-in their financial straits? The woman pointed to a sign taped to the cash register. "That's what the sign says," Lucy reminded them. Grudgingly, Frank served the cup, placing it gently on the table, smiling a plastic-fruit waxy grin. Lucy reached for her hot mug and drank. Frank stepped back, watching her future flow down the old lady's wrinkled throat.

From across the room, Amanda quivered slightly and said, "I just got the strangest feeling, Frank. Like a wave of negativity rolled all the way across the bar, from right where you're standing to right here, by me." Amanda curled her fingers over her curvy hip. "Whatever you've done, apologize to Lucy," she said to Frank.

"I didn't do anything," protested Frank

Amanda had long claimed she had unusually strong intuitive powers. Frank dismissed Amanda's "cosmic sensitivity" as nothing more than finely honed observational skills, which by themselves were impressive. Frank did believe Amanda had other gifts, however. Long, wavy auburn hair. Flawless cream-and petals skin. Grass green eyes. Even a blind man could see that Amanda was gorgeous. Compared to that, Frank's smartness often felt like birth's booby prize...

Smart Vs. Pretty. Copyright © by Valerie Frankel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013

    Read this

    The worst book i have ever read. I gave this book to my dog as chew toy. Dont waste ur money

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    Horrible

    Don't bother wasting your money and time. I don't think I will finish reading to the end (less than 35 pages left) but it is so bad I am affraid that I may have to say worse things about how bad it is. Wish we could give minus stars for ratings.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Dissapointment

    I loved 'Accidental Virgin' by this author, but this book left me dissapointed. Too many insignificant plots going on at once, which just makes for a messy read. It doesnt help that the events are predictable but far fetched at the same time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Emily to z

    If u were locked out. Move tonxt result

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  • Posted August 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is lacking...

    First off, Valerie Frankel has some good books. I enjoed "Accidental Virgin",however, this one was not so good. The plot has way to much going on at once. It would be one thing if it was set around a coffee shop going under, but instead it had about 5 other conflicts. This choice in plot can make the book confusing, and almost unreadable. Also, the abundence of "bad characters", made the book confusing, because you get to know characters who really dont have much significance. I think Frankel should have put more effort into other characters. So, I wouldnt recommened this book, because it has too much going on, and because the title really doesnt apply to the book. There is no real "competition" between Amanda and Frank.

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  • Posted July 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun, Quick read!!

    This book was truly entertaining. I really enjoyed the whole story and laughed out loud at some parts. It was a very easy read and was pure enjoyment.

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  • Posted July 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best book I ever read and still read

    I found this book laying around the house I finally decided to read it and have never regretted it, this is a book that sits beside my bed and on occasion I reread, I love this book. Call me obsessed because I am. I read this when I was 15 I think and still read it four years later, woooo

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  • Posted May 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Cute book... cute sister book!!!!

    Valerie Frankell 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 dialoged. 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!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2005

    Not what I was hoping for

    I was hoping for more out of this book. I only finished it because it finally got good 175 pages into it. This book also has nothing to do with the title, so don't think you'll learn anything you already didn't know.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2004

    Had nothing to do with the cover!

    As mentioned by another reviewer, the cover and back of the book gave me a different impression of what the book would be about. It started out great, but then got sort of strange when it turned into a mystery about deception and murders. A somewhat disappointing read...I guess you really can't judge a book by its cover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2003

    False advertising gave me false hope...

    This book was nothing that it claimed to be on the back cover. It was as if the author just occasionally threw in 'Frank is smart, Amanda is pretty' every once in a while just so the name of the book could be 'Smart vs. Pretty.' And the murder stuff made no sense at all. I should have guessed by the large type that this was meant for someone in middle school, but even that might be saying too much.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2003

    Good read for sisters!

    I thought this book was great. Interesting story line but more importantly the relationship described between the sisters is priceless. Having a sister myself I saw many similarities that my sister and I share. This book is a great read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2002

    Good

    I liked the book. There was a bit of romance, mystery, deception, and murder. I mean I have read better mystery, but I thought this plot was fun!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2001

    Smart and Pretty

    This book was an awesome book that i totally loved. Every character had something lovable about them and the plot was very original, because even the simplest detail had something to do with the big picture. Definitely worth a read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2001

    a good good book

    When i began reading 'Smart vs. Pretty', by Valerie Frankel, I thought it was an 'okay' book. But when you get to the climax, you think twice. I finished it in a couple of hours. VERY INTERESTING, all I can say. I recomend this book to anyone who has a sister or one who enjoys great books. Okay ppl, peace out.>>>>

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2001

    Flavorful, but no 'kick'!

    Like a cup of decaf, there seems to be something missing from this tasty morsel... Looks like coffee, smells like coffee, tastes (sort of) like coffee, but there's no 'kick!' While the story is entertaining, it is predictable and somehow, just doesn't quite live up to its promise. Pretty, yes... smart? Well, maybe above average.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2000

    What a waste of time!

    This book, as I mentioned above, was a total waste of time. I had expected a book a twnety-something/thirty-something might find of interest. Wrong! This was a book I may have read at age 12, with the exception of one sex scene. The plot was simplistic, and totally unrealistic. The characters were shallow and immature. All in all, I'll repeat, this book was a total and complete waste of my time! I would give 0 stars if I had the opportunity to do so!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2000

    so disappointed

    I started reading this book with great expectations. I found it very unrealistic. Characters are very unnatural.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    very satisfying

    Most people including the siblings would agree that thirty-three year old Francesca 'Frank' Greenfield was the smart one and twenty-nine year old Amanda was the pretty one. The two sisters went their separate ways until last year when they inherited the family café, Barney Greenfield's, in Brooklyn Heights. However, instead of the success they expected, the business is in deep trouble from the opening of Moonburst, a franchised coffee shop, just up the block form the sisters' establishment. <P> Twenty-three year old marketing major Clarissa O'MacFlanahagan enters the café She talks with the sister about them needing a pull, a marketing strategy that would bring repeat customers to Barney Greenfield's. Desperate for any help, Frank and Amanda agree to allow Clarissa to develop and implement a marketing plan. If they knew when they started how many things were going to spin out of control, both the smart one and the pretty one probably would have chosen to shut the doors to Barney Greenfield's coffeehouse permanently. <P>Though an extremely humorous romantic romp, SMART AND PRETTY also contains a serious undertone as the Pygmalion Affect caused by their family over the years not only stereotypes Frank and Amanda, but has them living up to those expectations. The story line is entertaining and the craziness adds to the overall fun. The three lead female charcaters are all different yet feel genuine, especially together. The support cast adds romance, competition, and a feel for Brooklyn Heights. Valerie Frankel shows a deft touch that provides much pleasure to sub-genre fans. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2000

    amazing

    smart, witty, and oh so surprising. I am recommending this book to anyone I know with a sister, or anyone with an exhuberant sense of humor!!

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