Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sometimes, Stick to What You Do Best

Remember back in like the beginning of May, I was so excited because I found another Melissa Nathan book (The Learning Curve)? Remember how I scoured the internet for a used copy and ending up buying one along with like 15 other books? So after all that, you would think I would have devoured it right up the second I got it in the mail, right? But of course, if you own it, you don't read it - even if you've never read it before apparently.  Actually, a whole bunch of other people read it in the past few months, but I didn't get around to it until this past week, believe it or not (I know, I'm shocked myself :)) So I had a lot of feedback going into it...

Peryl loved it, Penina thought it was okay, Huvi thought it was too dragged out - so I knew it wasn't great, but given Melissa Nathan's track record, and the fact that I'm usually not the pickiest one in the crowd, I thought I would like it.  But as it turned out... there's a reason this book was only published in England (actually I have no idea if that's the reason but whatever).  So it started out similarly to The Nanny (see here) - the first thing I noticed was the kind of stylized writing, where the author tends to come up with these strange extended similes/metaphors that distract from the story instead of illustrating anything.  They're meant to be funny, and I guess they are, but when you notice the writing, it isn't good (I think I've said that before - could that be a new rule for me? ooh, exciting :)) And whereas in the other book, I kind of stopped noticing after a while... this one didn't really get better.  The other thing I noticed at the beginning of The Nanny was that the characters were difficult to get a read on - was I supposed to like this one, hate that one... again, by the middle of the book, it became clear, but with The Learning Curve, I actually never got a read - Rob and Amanda turned out horrible in the end, and Miss James pretty much with it... but I went back and forth on them too often for them to be any kind of consistent characters.   So that was definitely annoying.

The Nanny started out with too much plot, but by the end, I pretty much enjoyed, or at least cared about, Jo's issues with the family.  This one on the other hand... I'm not sure why Huvi thought it was dragged out.  Dragged out implies that it gets to some point and then it should end there- but this one never went anywhere.  It was mostly about Nicky's struggle with her ex-boyfriend and whether she's over him and also about her doubts about raising a family and going for a career at the same time.  The first one was annoying both b/c she was an idiot about him and I had no patience for a non-romance going nowhere and the second was even worse b/c it's such a dead issue if you ask me - yes you can have a career and raise a family, n/1 cares, get over yourself and do what you have to do! or don't, whatever, but n/1 is out to get you from either side, trust me.  Basically, I found Nicky impossibly stupid in both her personal and professional life.  She goes back and forth about whom to trust when all she really needs to do is have a few straight conversations with a few people to get e/t ship shape.  So I guess it's dragged out in that sense - on and on about s/t I never cared about in the first place!

At this point, you must be saying, but Rochel, what about that great redeeming factor? Isn't Melissa Nathan one of your favorite chic lit writers? There *must* be an awesome romance sprinkled out there somewhere.  Well I suppose there is... if by sprinkled, you mean one or two little bits placed gingerly somewhere out there in the wide expanse.  I mean, the guy likes the girl, the girl likes the guy, they don't get together... but the tension, the angst, the moments? They're mostly not there at all, and when they are there, mostly not well done.  I think there was like one point where I said, okay, finally, it's getting good... but then it just went back to the same old, same old.  Sigh...

What exactly happened here? Well the first thing is that Melissa Nathan died very soon after completing this, so she probably didn't have the time to craft it properly, very understandably.  I'm sure some of the back and forth would have been edited, and maybe the romance would have been dusted up a bit.  And besides that, I think she wanted to write a bit of a more serious book, one that would say something, and one that would kind of stand as a message to her husband/son... well I hope she got what she wanted in terms of that, because I must say it just doesn't succeed as well as a chic lit.  Sorry.

Verdict: 2/5
Food: something really, really disappointing - because it just wasn't done right... let me go with slightly raw chicken - not so raw you can't eat it, just raw enough that you can't enjoy it... to bad


  1. it was totally dragged out because it was like four hundred pages and it held my interest for about 100. plus all the other characters in the book were really annoying except for matthew. and i have to say always hate when ppl quit their jobs in the middle of the book and are not as rich

  2. well at least it held your interest for 100 :) that's more than I can say for it
    like I can't even remember who matthew is right now... are you sure that's a name? but i didn't mind the quitting the job so much b/c it's not like he lives off his savings- he finds another job and lives totally responsibly