Since I read "Bridget Jones Diary" by Helen Fielding years ago, I have liked reading British chick lit. Luckily, a lot of works by British authors are now being published here.
I really liked "Did the Earth Move?" by Carmen Reid (Downtown Press, $13), who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Even though I don't like the book's title at all, I liked the story, which follows the independent Eve, a single mom who has two grown sons and two kids still at home.
She lives in a basement apartment in London, but has transformed her dingy yard into a fabulous garden. Eve loves spending time there, in her getaway from the world.
Still, she has plenty of responsibilities, both at her job and with her family. When one of her older sons announces his sudden engagement, Eve starts to rethink her own opposition to commitment. She has several potential suitors, including her ex.
I liked all the characters in this book, especially Eve. I started to care about what happened to her after only reading a few pages of "Did the Earth Move?" I just wish the title could had been different. Perhaps "The Garden of Eve?"
Another British book I enjoyed reading was "Bachelor Boys" by Kate Saunders (St. Martin's Press, $21.95). Saunders lives in London.
In this story, the childhood friend of two eligible young men promises their mother she'll help them find their soul mates. Cassie is sure she can find wives for Fritz and Ben, but it won't be easy. Their terminally ill mother wants to see them married before she dies.
Though this may sound a little depressing, the book is actually quite sweet. The boys, who are both technically adults, are unwillingly to let go of their bachelor ways, but Cassie is quite persistent. Ultimately, "Bachelor Boys" is another fun read.
Hollywood chick lit
I also can't stay away from chick lit set in California. I particularly liked Tara McCarthy's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Downtown Press, $13). The author creates the extremely believable pop duo of Flora and Fiona Sparks, who just happen to be Siamese twins.
The twins' dad, who is also their manager, invites celebrity journalist Sloan Madden to write their biography. The story, told from Sloan's point of view, is a perfect depiction of the excesses of Hollywood life and the secret life of celebrities. Who cares if Fiona and Flora aren't real - they come to life in "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
If you're a fan of People magazine, VH-1's "The Best Week Ever" and E! television, you'd probably really like "Love Will Tear Us" apart. I know I do.
Not everything I read is as light as clouds. I also enjoy serious novels, like "Wickett's Remedy" by Myla Goldberg (Doubleday, $24.95).
With all the talk about the possibility of a new flu epidemic, I found "Wickett's Remedy" particularly interesting reading. The book addresses the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, showing its effects on one Boston family in particular.
Lydia, the central character, marries Henry, a man she meets at the department store where she works. Henry has been studying medicine, but soon quits soon as he invents a mail-order medicine called Wickett's Remedy.
In the book, several stories are woven together. The main narrative follows Lydia's life, with comments in the margin thrown in by people who have different perspectives on the story. At the end of each chapter, old newspaper clippings and snippets of dialogue show what life was like in Boston. Additionally, excerpts from a corporate newsletter trace the history of the successful soft drink QD Soda.
At first, these additional elements are confusing, but they are soon folded into the main story. The dialogue snippets took the longest for me to figure out, but near the end of the book, I finally realized who was speaking.
"Wickett's Remedy" is not quite like anything else I've ever read. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a well-crafted story.
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