Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: In Office Hours

Well, this was a dishy little novel.

In Office Hoursis about two women who have affairs. One, Stella, is a higher up at a ginormous oil company in London. She starts sleeping with a 27 year old male new hire - yes, she's married, but not to him. The other is Bella, a 20-something single mom who works at the same company and starts banging her married boss.

In each case, we only get inside the woman's head. It's the kind of book that makes me wonder why ANYONE would have an affair. They both seem to know it won't end well, but they forge ahead anyway. But why? It's not that author Lucy Kellaway doesn't explain the (gravely flawed) rationale for their actions...but maybe it's me.

Kellaway is an editor and columnist at the Financial Times, which is why the office part of this book is spot on. That, combined with the British melodrama feel of the book, makes for a light read. I'd have enjoyed this on vacation if I was away.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses

I don't know if I've ever described a book this way, but here goes: The Secret Lives of Dressesis cute.

I can't think of a better word to wrap up this sweet story about a college senior who, after her grandmother ends up in the hospital, starts working at her grandmother's vintage clothing store. It's written about Erin McKean, the woman behind the super fun Dress a Day blog.

Talk about the right book at the right time, too. Last year, I wrote this piece about vintage in Tampa for the New York Times. I'm trying to find the perfect vintage dress to wear to my book launch party in May, and I've been talking to a few dealers about my options (late 60s, early 70s, something along the lines of Halston designs - apparently that's what I'm after). I also made a big vintage buy in December - probably the most expensive dress I have ever purchased - and I think it was worth it. I'm flying back to Tampa in March for Phillies spring training, and trying to figure out if I have time to go to La France, which is one of the places I wrote about in the Tampa article, and the coolest store I've ever been in. They sold me my first vintage dress, a pink floaty 1930s thing that was in "as is" condition. It probably needed an overhaul, but being a poor college kid, I didn't have the resources to fix it. I think I wrote it twice before it fell apart. But both times I wore it? Felt like a million bucks.

The book isn't about why vintage rocks. It's about a turn in one woman's life. But it's a nice element, and very well done.

It's not a perfect book, though. Some of the characters a too cliched, and the plot lines a shade predictable. But I don't think this book was meant to be a big thinker. It's the kind of book I'd suggest you bring on vacation. It'd make great relaxed reading.

On another note: I apologize that the blog's been a little quiet lately. I've been reviewing books for American Way magazine, and I can't write here what they are because of my contract. Gotta keep that dog in fancy kibble.

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