Pretty in Plaid
by Jen Lancaster
Hardcover: 384 pages
Available: May 4, 2010
Book received from: Penguin
In Pretty in Plaid, Jen Lancaster reveals how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.
Think Jen Lancaster was always “like David Sedaris with pearls and a super-cute handbag?” (Jennifer Coburn) Think again. She was a badge-hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn’t know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this humorous and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life-and wardrobe-before bitter was the new black and shows us a young woman not so very different than the rest of us.
The author who showed us what it was like to wait in line at the unemployment office with a Prada bag, how living in the city can actually suck, and that losing weight can be fun with a trainer named Barbie and enough Ambien is ready to take you on a hilarious and heartwarming trip down memory lane in her shoes (and very pretty ones at that).
Initially, when I signed up to review this book for Fiction Vixen, I was excited. The blurb looked funny and I thought that I could use a good dose of laughter after a hectic semester.
And I was right, it was funny. Jen opens with letters she wrote to Mattel in an attempt to extort more Barbies from them (which I feel should’ve worked on the basis that a child was able to write such a letter, but I digress), a letter that she wrote to her brother’s teacher, to Brooke Shields, to her school principal, and finally one to herself. Each one made me laugh out loud.
The book begins with the story of how her family drove 2 hours to celebrate her birthday and she demands lobster. They try to convince her that she should get a cheeseburger instead, but because it’s her birthday and she feels this warrants lobster. Problem is that she’s only 8 and has never actually eaten it before. I nearly fell off the couch laughing at her description of the beast when it was finally delivered to her plate (“Someone accidentally left the face on this thing.”) I laughed so hard that my daughter rushed into the living room, Barbie in hand (which only made me laugh harder) demanding to know What. Is. So. Funny. Mommy?!
Unfortunately, that was the last time I laughed that hard. Sure, the rest of the book was funny, and I did laugh out loud more than once, I was never (again) in danger of falling off of my couch. In fact, as the book progressed, I got more and more irritated with Jen because she seemed so completely self-absorbed and immature. It took her 11 years to finish school. Shouldn’t she have grown up a bit more than that? And yeah, I’ve blown my electric bill money on frivolous things like shoes, but I wasn’t even 20 yet. She did it when she was in her 30s!
I kept reading because I made a commitment to FV to finish the book and write this review, but if I had been reading it on my own, I wouldn’t have. Granted, it did get better toward the end and she did show how much she’s grown up, I just felt it took too long to do so.
Overall, the book was funny, but I just couldn’t stay enthralled with it.
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