Friday, March 13, 2009

Two stars for the novel, four stars for the recipes

Belle in the Big Apple: A Novel with Recipes
by Brooke Parkhurst

By the time I requested a review copy of this novel through the Amazon Vine program, I could already see the very mixed to negative reviews. But I thought to myself, "Perhaps they're not really chick-lit fans." And I must admit that I was very intrigued by the idea of a novel with recipes. Intrigued enough to want to check it out for myself.

Unfortunately, the only conclusion I can come to is that this is a very badly written debut novel. It's essentially a fish out of water story. Southern Belle comes to the Big Apple to make it big. While not the most original premise, it definitely could have worked. Belle gets a job with a conservative cable news network. As the author is a former employee of Fox News, she might have had some fun with that. Unfortunately, the writing was honestly just tedious. Ideas were poorly expressed.

Possibly my biggest problem was with the protagonist herself. Helen Feilding made me relate to a hard-drinking, chain-smoking Londoner. Jennifer Weiner made me relate to a zaftig, East Coast Jewess. There was absolutely nothing relatable in Belle. I felt absolutely no kinship with her, and really didn't like her very much. When the character is unlikeable, you don't really care if they ultimately succeed, so even the ending held little satisfaction.

What was the one great thing about this novel? The recipes! They really are great, and were intergrated into the text in fun ways. I can't wait to try a few out.

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