Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

This is exactly the kind of book I feared to hold in my hands when I avoided reading "chick-lit" for so long.

In the first fifty pages of Goodnight Nobody, I was treated to enough descriptions of people's clothing to make me run away screaming. When you include the excessive description of hair styles, skin, facial features, decor, architecture and the tiresome dropping of brand names left, right and center... well... ARRGGHHHHHH!!!

To give you an idea of how focused on (IMO) the wrong kind of description this author is, let me share with you a passage from page 10, where the protagonist finds a body:

"Oh, God!" I clapped my hand against my mouth and grabbed onto the countertop to keep myself from sliding to the floor. Kitty had gone for the same upgrades that Ben and I had picked. Her countertops were granite, her floors were pickled maple, and the French doors leading to the garden had leaded glass insets. There was a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Viking range, and between them was Kitty Cavanaugh, facedown on the floor with an eight-inch carbon-steel Henckels butcher's knife protruding from between her shoulder blades.

Umm... hello? You just found your pal stabbed to death on the floor, and you're taking a moment to assess her decor choices, drop a couple of appliance brand names and notice what kind of knife the killer used? This would be the kind of reaction I'd expect from a hardened crime scene detective with a curious preoccupation with kitchen decor, but it doesn't ring true from a suburban mom who has presumably never seen a murder victim in her life.

Unfortunately, though this may well be an interesting mystery, the writing style didn't pull me in. Even if I could get past all the descriptions, I didn't think the people in this book felt real. They all seemed like shallow caricatures: the suburban stepford wives, the world-weary cop, the distant workaholic husband, the single best friend who can't find a husband but is great with your kids... etc, etc.

So I'm going to close this one, and give Jennifer Weiner one more chance with Little Earthquakes.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Maybe this is why I found it a fast read -- my eyes glaze over and do not register clothing descriptions. I have skipped over pages of writing that contain too much description like that! However, I did relate to the main character (although I can't remember her name!) and her struggle on the outside of the circle with her neighbours (except I don't care as much as she does!). And I liked how when the digging started, it was revealed that these perfect plastic women were not quite so perfect after all (possibly plastic, but not perfect).

That said, I found this by far the least enjoyable of the books I've read by Jennifer Weiner, and probably because I sympathized least with the characters.