While waiting in line for apple pie at a party, Imogene Gilfeather, a lingerie designer who does not understand the reason for romance, meets Wally Yez, a scientist whose business card says “An Answer for Everything.” Imogene is told that Wally is the perfect guy. (“Perfect,” she replies, “is not my type.”) He is told that her company, Featherware, manufactures intimates (that gets his attention). Unfazed by Imogene’s indifference (who needs love when you have a career, friends, and an undemanding affair with a married man?), Wally resolves to win her over. E-mails turn into late-night phone calls; one date turns into two and then into more. Thus begins the most absurd and amusingly unbalanced relationship to grace the pages of a novel.
In a nutshell:
I liked it: so so
For people who: have a short attention span, like sketch comedy, are looking for a fun read, don’t take things seriously.
This was an unusual novel. I liked the general concept of short chapters, something I imagined to be similar to the vignettes of “The Time Traveller’s Wife”. The numbered “chaplettes”, however, turned out to be much, much shorter, so short in fact that they sometimes only consisted of two words (the longest was a bit less than a page if I remember correctly). This might make for a quick read, but they never kept my attention for very long. When you read a book with proper chapters, you might say to yourself “I finish this chapter before I turn the light off”. Here, finishing the “chapter” takes you a few seconds to a minute. Somehow I could never get into a reading flow. I read a few chaplettes and my interest would fade, I never got into the story.
The story itself was a good idea, but I never saw either the attraction between Wally and Imogene or how their relationship developed. Somehow, even though Imogene was not in the least interested in either Wally or a relationship in general, it went from meeting at a party to going out to having hour-long phone calls, and I have no idea how. Also it was absolutely inconceivable what Wally actually saw in Imogene, why he thought that she was the perfect woman for him, that she was *his* woman. She seemed indifferent to him at best. Where was the romance?
Then there was the humour. It was supposed to be amusing, unfortunately it wasn’t, it was forcedly funny. To the point that I thought that it is just too much and, on top of it, getting old. The sort of humour that might be funny in an episode of Saturday Night Live, but not in a 250+ pages novel, at least not to me.
Another thing that I didn’t particularly care for was the fact that Patricia Marx continuously points out to the reader that she is just another bystander and has not much more clue as to what is going on than the reader himself. There are so many references to “Patty” that you get to think she must be a character in the book! I didn’t like that. I like my writers omniscient and preferably invisible.
Interspersed across the book are a number of illustrations by the author. Unfortunately my e-reader (Sony PRS-505) didn’t show them, so I could look at them only on my PC which somehow spoilt the experience. I am sure that looking at them while reading the according chaplette would have been much more fun.
If you are looking for romance, keep away from this. If you want a funny, comedy-like, casual read with over the top humour that doesn’t hold your attention for hours on end, then go for it.
Product info and buy link :
|Title||Starting from happy|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|I got this book from||Simon & Schuster’s galley grab program|
|Buy link||Buy Starting from Happy: A Novel on amazon|
|More info||Patricia Marx’ page at Simon & Schuster with book trailer for “Starting from happy”|
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.
Book Hooked Blog thought the same as I did about this one.