Reviewed byMolly Jong-Fast
Midway though Cabot's latest novel, Chaz (the boyfriend of protagonist Lizzie Nichols's best friend) tells Lizzie, "Someday you're really going to have to describe to me in more detail what life is like on the planet you live on. Because it sounds really great, and I'd like to visit there one day." Ultimately, this is what is both problematic and enormously appealing about the work of Cabot, the woman who shot to fame selling the idea that fairy tales really do come true.
Lizzie is the fairy tale heroine. She is the fat, awkward girl in all of us, profoundly Midwestern, from the Spanks (modern Spandex girdles) she wears to her indignation at subway rudeness to her insistence on paying her wealthy boyfriend rent for living in his mother's Fifth Avenue apartment.
As the book opens, Lizzie has just moved to New York City with her best friend, Shari, and their boyfriends, Luke and Chaz. Lizzie is determined not to become like her acquaintance Kathy Pennebaker, the prototypical smalltown girl who fails in Manhattan and returns home to wander the aisles of the local grocery store loading up on cough syrup for a weekend meth-making session.
Things quickly become perfect for Lizzie. Luke asks her to move into his mother's apartment. She finds an amusing though nonpaying job working as a wedding dress restorer with an insane French couple. Lizzie also takes a paying job as a receptionist at Chaz's father's law firm.
There are slight problems in paradise: the wedding store where Lizzie works has fallen on hard times and is involved in a rivalry with another wedding dress restorer. Luckily, Lizzie stumbles on a weddingdress gold mine when she befriends a woman who takes cares of seals at the zoo. It turns out that the seal-keeper is about to marry into one of Manhattan's most prominent families; suddenly, the smart crowd is coming to Lizzie's store. But Lizzie's quest to become successful is sidetracked by Shari's relationship problems and Lizzie's conviction that Luke's mother is having an affair and her obsession with the idea that Luke will never marry her. There is something oddly affirming about Cabot's writing. After sitting down with Queen of Babble in the Big City, it is totally clear to me why her books are huge bestsellers. Meg Cabot is nice. She sees the world as a wonderful place, and you want to live in her world and be her best friend. Her characters are charming. There is a school of thought that says reading should be entertaining, and this is exactly what Meg Cabot produces for us: fun. She is the master of her genre; she is the George Bernard Shaw if not the George Eliot of chick lit.
Molly Jong-Fast's third book,The Social Climbe's Handbook, will be published by Villard in 2009. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A silly, predictable follow-up to Queen of Babble (2006) about a chatty chick conquering Manhattan. Oh my gosh! Lizzie Nichols' life is soooo amazing. After a post-college trip to France, Lizzie has snagged Prince Charming-and Luke actually is a prince, but is just way too cool to make a big deal about it. Now Lizzie is living in Manhattan, absolutely the place to be if you want to start your own bridal-gown design house. And she's living with Luke at his Fifth Avenue apartment (okay, so it belongs to his super-rich parents, but still, there's a Renoir over the bed!). And her best friend Shari has an amazing job helping battered women overcome obstacles and stuff, and Shari's boyfriend Chaz likes to talk about Wittgenstein, which must make him really smart. But not everything is perfect-Lizzie needs a job. Happily, Chaz finds her one answering phones at his father's law firm and she finds a kind of internship at Monsieur Henri, redesigning old wedding gowns. Lizzie is also concerned about Shari and Chaz-they don't seem to be in love anymore. But most distressingly, Lizzie is trying to figure out how to get Luke to propose. Like any 23-year-old unmarried woman, she's close to becoming an old maid! Alas, Luke is so wrapped up in his pre-med studies, an engagement ring might not be under the Christmas tree this year. Not surprisingly, everything works out just beautifully, and even if Shari dumps Chaz and becomes a lesbian, that's cool, as long as she never liked Lizzie in that way, because that would be too weird. The running joke throughout the novel is that Lizzie talks too much, but it's no joke for the reader who is inundated with the mindless chatter of the narrator. Tedious froth,perhaps more suitable for teens who might think this is what grown-up life is like. Agent: Jenny Brown/Jenny Brown Associates