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Since her debut memoir (and seriously, how many people can say that?) Bitter Is the New Black (which chronicled her journey from dot.com executive to unemployed Prada-wearing temp), Lancaster has mined almost all aspects of her life in her humorous memoirs—ranging from weight loss (Such A Pretty Fat) to city living (Bright Lights, Big Ass). In this one, she’s determined to smarten herself up by getting cultured, which involves tasting wine, attending the theater, trying new cuisines, reading literature and participating in other “hoity toity” activities.
Well, when you’re on your fourth memoir before the age of 40, you’re going to start running out of material—and that seemed pretty apparent in this book. Although the premise seemed OK (less reality television, more ballet), the problem in this book was Lancaster herself. Rather than being an amusing smart ass, I thought Lancaster just came off as an ass this time around. Perhaps this grasping for topics to memoirize (Is that a word? If not it should be! And I just coined it!) was why her latest book was a novel instead of a memoir.
Although there are some funny sections, most of the book made Lancaster seem self-involved, shrill and shallow. It was the first book of hers that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and the first time I didn’t want to hang out with her. Here’s hoping her foray into fiction nets her some fresh ideas.
ABOUT THE NARRATION
I was surprised that Jen Lancaster herself didn’t narrate the book. However, I’ve never heard her talk so perhaps her voice wasn’t suited for narration. (But if Sarah Vowell can do it, ANYONE can do it.) Jaime Heinlein had shades of “Valley Girl” in her voice somewhere that didn’t sit well with me. In fact, I found it a bit of a chore to listen to the book. Part of it was the content of the book itself, and part of it was Heinlein’s voice. Now that I’ve listened to several audiobooks, I’m learning that there are some narrators that you don’t mind spending time with and those that wear out their visit. For me, Heinlein wore her visit by hour two.
Die-hard Jen Lancaster fans and reality show junkies.
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