Thursday, September 16, 2010

Not That Kind of Girl: Formulaic fiction (or "chick lit")

Not That Kind of GirlNot That Kind of Girl by Catherine Alliott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although I loathe the term "chick lit," this is a classic example of it. I have read a number of Alliott's books over the years, and at the beginning I found them to be very funny. This will be the last one I read, though--it was a gift from my mother-in-law and sat on my bookcase for years. This story was predictable and stereotypical.

According to Catherine Alliott (and many authors in this genre), women are most likely to be secretaries, journalists, or in public relations. The goal in life is to marry a well-off, successful man and move to a huge, lavishly decoratedhouse in the country, and have a couple of children.

Then once the woman (or GIRL, as they say in England, even when the woman is in her 30s or 40s) achieves said goal, she becomes dissatisfied with her lot and takes her luck for granted.

In this case, the protagonist (Henny) is persuaded to go back to work in London, after 15 years of looking down her nose at other women who work outside of the home. Her children, incidentally, appear to be spoiled and lazy.

Inevitably, misunderstandings and jumping to conclusions ensue. Rash stereotypes are thrown about (such as women in the workplace are all seductive nymphs, and her husband has to fight them off all day long!). Perhaps things are different in British workplaces, or in advertising, but my office is not a hotbed of sexual tension!

Throw in the obligatory fox hunt and private schools while you're at it.

Of course, there is always a happy ending. I did read the whole thing, because I wanted to learn how it turned out, but it was a bit of a chore.

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