Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Book Review Club ~ September

September alreaady! I can't help but think of changing leaves, pumpkin patches, apple-picking, and candy corn, but that seems so out of place in the swelter of Houston weather. Still, if nothing else, September means back to school and another enstallment of the Book Review Club, brain child of hilarious tween author Barrie Summy.

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This month it was a bit of a toss up which book got chosen--I've read so many good ones lately. But I eventually decided to hype Shannon Hale's The Actor and the Housewife. What's interesting--and I just noticed this while glancing at the uploaded cover image--is that on the copy of the book I was reading, the 'housewife' had long dark brown hair, and I'm pretty sure the 'actor' didn't have a bow tie. How very curious. But...covers aside, let's get on with the review.

The general storyline is perhaps a trifle far-fetched. Okay, a lot far-fetched. But it turns out that the far-fetchedness (probably not a real word) is a big part of the story. So, keep that in mind when you read the summary and stay with me.

Becky Jack is a stay-at-home mother of three--soon to be four--from Layton, Utah who just happens to sell a manuscript her first time out, to the first producer she queries. Rather coincidentally, while meeting with the producer (while many months pregnant), she happens to run into her longtime movie crush, actor Felix Callahan. She is polite, he is rather rude, she calls him on it, and (insert a series of coincidences), they end up eating dinner together and sharing one dance. I know--farfetched.

Felix is intrigued and shows up in Layton while Becky is giving a talk. Additional coincidental meetings ensue, while both Felix and Becky ponder at the extraordinary nature of their burgeoning friendship. Before too long, they have become good friends, regularly indulging in phone chats and silly antics. But with such an unorthodox friendship comes complications. Felix is married (as is Becky), and it's openly debated among Becky's family whether men can--and should be--friends with married women. Even the Hollywood press has an opinion...

In a nutshell, this book revolves around this unexpected--and rather far-fetched--friendship. Becky and Felix weather highs and lows, deluges and dry spells, and through it all both absolutely cherish their friendship. You are likely wondering whether their friendship ever blooms into something more--I most definitely was. All I can tell you (because I'm sure you don't want spoilers) is that you will be surprised. (I dare you to email me if you're not.)

Okay, my review. First of all, I loved the premise of this story, and really and truly, I loved the characters too. Becky is Super Mom, and Felix is a young Sean Connery (he is British...) who imagines himself as charming as Cary Grant (he can be). There is a huge amount of whip-lash dialogue in this book, much of it very funny. Becky and Felix gel from the get-go, and know just how to play off each other to perfection. I thought Shannon Hale did this brillantly. There are also many, many funny situations, particularly when Becky (inconceivably!) gets cast to play opposite Felix in a movie being produced from her second sold screenplay. Hilarity ensues.

I highly recommend this book. It may seem to drag a bit in parts as Becky tries to really wrap her mind around the reality of having a famous, uber-sexy, married best friend, but really, who can blame her? It's crazy--the whole thing is crazy. But it's crazy-good.

As a bonus, I would also like to recommend Elizabeth Peters' Crocodile in the Sandbank, the first in the Amelia Peabody mystery series. I absolutely loved this Victorian-era sassy sleuth--she always devises the perfect thing to say. I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and loved that the series has its own website, which includes a page of 'Peabodyisms'--totally worth reading!


Jenn Jilks said...

Interesting book! Great catch!

The one I reviewed was humorous. And the author tried to find a publisher, gave up and podcast it, then self-published and entered a major Canadian book contest.
Now it is flying off the shelves.

Anonymous said...

It sounds utterly fascinating - sort of a "Before Sunrise" kind of book, which is mostly conversation on a train - just the kind of story I love. And farfetched - but fun - and something we probably all dream of.

Beth Yarnall said...

It does sound very far fetched but I'm up for it. I love humorous books. Thanks for a great review!

Sarah Laurence said...

What an original and fun premise for a book. I'm a happily married woman with good looking married male friends - it's not that far fetched. Great review!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Oh, the friendship itself isn't what's far-fetched, Sarah. It's the whole situation surrounding the friendship. :)

Keri Mikulski said...

I want to read this one.. :) My kind of book. :)

Barrie said...

I like a book that's over the top! Thanks, Alyssa!

You Are My Fave said...

I've like Shannon Hale's other books so I might have to give this a try. I'm on the hunt for a new book to read anyway.