Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love by Megan Caldwell (Publish date December 26,2012)

"A novel of lattes, literature, and love"? Sounds like the story of my life, if you change "lattes" to "coffee" or "espresso" and don't mind the loss of alliteration. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for Molly, the 40-something discarded wife/single mother involved, my life is safely my own.  Still, this made an amusing diversion from some of other stuff I'm reading of late (Sholem Aleichem for a book club, sequel to a complex science fiction as an AR, a Nordic noir that's being passed around amongst friends, and some occupationally related reading.)

Molly's left facing a future of no money, no job, no support from the scummy ex, and has to reshape her world. Lucky for her, she's able to get work from an old college friend, who plops her in as the marketing/copy-writing person for a new bakery opening up near the New York City Library.  Did I mention that the chef/owner is handsome, and sexy, etc? Yeah, well, he is, as is his associate who appears to despise Molly as much as I despise the word "sexy" as a descriptor.

So here were the problems for me. Molly loves "literature" but is busy reading romance novels (which is fine to do, but own it, don't be ashamed of a good bodice. Heck, act it out, even.  It's great fun.) And when her non-reading friend wants to start reading good literature, Molly starts her out on Ethan FromeEthan Frome??? I'd be surprised if the chick ever picked up a book again.

Molly loves "coffee", but thinks nothing of drinking stuff that's been sitting on a warmer all day. The coffee geeks I know would be horrified at that, or by the pre-ground coffee she scoops out to make her bucket 'o coffee. I know there's the whole crowd out there that thinks Starbucks or Dunkin' Doughnuts reigns supreme, but not the folks I hang with. They'd shudder, and that's before knowing that the perfect cuppa in this book has milk and one sugar in it. Undoubtedly perfect for some, but not for the purists.

So if I put my judgmental snob hat aside, and focus on the story, it was fine. Molly is faced with some really awful stuff, and faces challenge. She also has a son, who she wants to keep unharmed from his father's desertion. Her mother is a little off kilter, but Molly deals with it well. She's got two great girlfriends to help her, with good shoulders to cry on and ears for listening. She's got a great shrink, another friend who gives her a job, and her health insurance is covered for at least a little while. And she's got a good enough head on her shoulders to not be ruled by her libido.

All in all, a fine escape read for a chilly autumn day. The references to books, in the copy Molly supposedly came up with for the bakery products, were entertaining. The recipes for those products a nice touch. A little more of Brooklyn would have been just great.  The best thing would have been if the bakery was real, and I could order one of those muffins to have with my freshly brewed, black coffee.

Many thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for sending along this copy of Vanity Fare. 

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