I used to be ashamed that I liked chick lit. So ashamed that I would try really hard to not like it. I’ve since given that up, but even if I hadn’t, I would have had a hard time pretending to not like this book. It really was laugh out loud funny. And I read it in public (on a plane, in the gym, etc.)
This is a memoir about a career woman in Chicago who is laid off the week after 9/11. She’s a spoiled brat with a serious shopping problem, and she doesn’t really acknowledge the severity of her money troubles until her live-in boyfriend is laid off also. She goes to great lengths to make money – gets married, works for a temp agency, she even tries (unsuccessfully) to work *gasp* retail. She is forced to stop getting manicures weekly, sells off her expensive purses (and coats and shoes and car), and eventually has to move out of her expensive apartment and move to the “ghetto”, an apartment from which she is eventually evicted.
Through it all, she remains hysterical. She is sarcastic, she is funny, she is real, and she is BITTER. The best part? She learns from her mistakes but doesn’t shove it in your face. There is no moral at the end of the story, even though she is a changed person. She is, however, still bitter and still hysterical.
She’s got a few more books, and I can’t wait to read each one of them. Chick lit, I love you.
UPDATE: I’ve read two more. Rather than create new pages, I’m just going to add them here.
She’s back, and she’s still just as funny. And she’s kind of pissed at Carrie Bradshaw for making big city life sound all hunky-dory (and also that Carrie and co. can eat all the crap they want, not have jobs (or have them, but never seem to work), and still have time/money for all the partying and eating out they do.
She’s calling bullshit on them. In her typically witty, sarcastic way, she’s telling it like it is.
I think that’s why I love her so.
I went straight into this one after Bright Lights, and I have to say, it took me a little longer to get into it. It starts out with Jen as an 8 year old. I don’t typically like 8 year olds (unless they are offspring of my relatives) so that may be why.
Although I could totally relate to her desire to get the most patches on her Girl Scout sash…even though I only made it through Brownies, but still. I wanted LOTS and LOTS of patches. (Spoiler alert: she lied to get them. At least she’s honest. Two decades later.)
But, then we get to the 80s, my favorite decade, and things pick up. Like the rest of her books, if you like wit, sarcasm, swearing, and brutal honesty, you will LOVE these books. I did.
I have another one sitting next me as I type. That’s high praise.
I took a bit of a break in there, but I came back to Ms. Lancaster. I missed her and Fletch (her husband) and all their shenanigans. NOt to mention the shenanigans of their dogs and cats. My Fair Lazy is about Jen and Fletch’s now suburban life. Jen started her reality tv obsession with the first season of the Real World (didn’t we all? Am I dating myself? I loved me some Eric Nies. And Heather D!! I met her at the sports store in college. True story.)
Now she’s decided that she needs some real culture and she undertakes a new self-improvement project – taking in anything and everything from food from around the world to opera to plays to poetry. Successes or failures, each experience is good for a laugh.
Unfortunatley, the laugh it’s good for isn’t nearly as hearty a laugh as her previous books. I’m not sure if it’s just the same humor has lost it’s appeal, if she isn’t as funny when she isn’t destitute, or if this book just didn’t deliver, but well…it just didn’t deliver like the others I’ve read. If you’ve never read any of her stuff, this one is going to be hilarious. If you’ve read a couple others, you can probably skip this one.
Maybe my Jen Lancaster quota fell at three books, because I didn’t think this one stacked up to the first few I’ve read either. It’s a shame too, because the premise is right up my ally. Jen is overweight and decides to write a memoir about losing weight. An honest, no-holds-barred, come what may kind of memoir.
But, we don’t find that out until we’re about 1/3 of the way into said memoir. I couldn’t even tell you what the first 1/3 was about either, which isn’t a compliment to the author. (Sorry, Jen!) Once the weight losing attempts start in earnest, the funny is nearly nonstop though. Sure it’s a bit narcissistic, but that’s her MO.
She tries Jenny Craig, she tries portion control, she gets a personal trainer, and she tries Weight Watchers. The chapter about her first (and only) visit to a weight watchers meeting alone made the book worth reading. The fact that her personal trainer is a bubbly perfect-bodied woman named Bambi is just a little too perfect to be true. I’d call her a liar, but for the fact that she also tells a story about her pants ripping and falling down to her ankles in the middle of a Target store. People who tell stories like that don’t lie about their trainers’ names.
Now that I’m thinking back to the book, it really was quite good. I take back my earlier statement. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Hmmm. Maybe 3.5. Yeah, 3.5.