Daily Archives: April 5, 2010

Goddess for Hire

Singh, Sonia. Goddess for Hire (2004). 305 Pages. HarperCollins. $13.95

Cover: Goddess for Hire

Our main character– Maya– is thirty years old, unemployed, single, and lives with her parents. She drinks a lot of Starbucks, drives a Hummer, and spends a lot of time shopping. She is, unfortunately, shallow, self-centered, and difficult to like. She has a major inferiority complex because, as she says “We’re all supposed to get married, have children, and be either a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, all by the time we’re twenty-five” (3) and while her cousins have all achieved this, Maya has made no progress at all.

This does not, however, mean that Maya attempts to make any progress toward pleasing her parents, or even getting a job. She whines constantly about the fact that she is a disappointment, yet does nothing to remedy it. To sum Maya up, she is the stereotypical spoiled, rich resident of Orange County, California.

Her Indian origin is all that makes Maya unique from every other spoiled rich girl in Newport Beach. This Indian heritage is what leads to her parents arranging a marriage with a man named Tahir from Delhi, which Maya– a truly Americanized girl– rejects on principle. “Maybe Tahir would find me unmarriageable? I quickly discarded that thought. I was gorgeous, possessed superb taste, and could make conversation at any cocktail party” (9). When Maya finally meets Tahir, planning to discourage him, she finds a gorgeous man who claims to have no interest in marrying her whatsoever. If you’ve read a single novel from the chick-lit genre, you know where this is going. Man and woman verbally spar, fall in love, have a torrid affair and live happily for at least a while.

Shortly after Tahir is introduced, the main plot comes into play; Maya is an incarnation of the goddess Kali and she’s been tasked with saving the world, or at least a small part of it. She learns to harness her powers and kick some ass. She stops far short of being a full on super-hero, instead being the bumbling anti-hero who manages to kick some ass, almost by accident.

It manages to be funny and for the most part light-hearted. It’s certainly not a deep, or terribly complex book. It’s an easy, quick read.

The Quick Version:

If you want a light book with a simple plot that will make you laugh at least a few times, this is a good choice. It scores a 3.5 of 5.

Interested? Trade for it on Swaptree or Buy it on Amazon

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Humor, Romance

The Devil Wears Prada

Weisberger, Lauren. The Devil Wears Prada (2003). 360 Pages. Broadway Books. $13.95

Cover: The Devil Wears PradaI never thought I’d say this about a book, but here I am, saying it: skip the book, and watch the movie instead. Anne Hathaway’s Andrea is a far more charming, sympathetic, and interesting character than the Andrea Sachs of this book.

The basic plot* is not so terrible; Andrea wants to be a writer for The New Yorker, a goal which she will do anything to achieve, including taking a miserable job for Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of the fictional Runway Magazine. The premise of the book is that a year as Miranda’s assistant will open doors that years of doing legitimate writing will not. Andrea leaps from abuse to drama to abuse, clinging to her holier-than-thou attitude. At the end of the book, she (oh so shockingly) leaves the company to move on to greater things. Big surprise.

The writing is not strong; the characters remain flat and undeveloped, inviting only the barest amount of sympathy from the reader. None of the characters make you root for them, instead Andrea whines and leaves you wondering when she’ll just stop. (The answer, by the way, is page 360.) Miranda is a monster, of course. Her demands are truly unreasonable and she asks more of her assistants than any boss has a right to ask. She makes a great (if sometimes repetitive) villain. She makes a demand, Andrea struggles, Andrea meets the demand, repeat ad nauseam.

Instead of seeing her co-worker, Miranda’s senior assistant Emily as an ally, Andrea sees her as another enemy. “Just fucking shut up already! You march into this office and think you understand everything. Little Miss I’m So Sarcastic and So Above All This! You don’t understand anything. Anything!” (208) Emily screams, and Andrea just doesn’t get it. It occurs to her at one point near the end of the book that if she had ever once seen Emily as an ally instead of an enemy, she could have had a friend and her year would have been less miserable.

There are other scenes in the book which will make most readers roll their eyes:

  • A girl from Newark, New Jersey writes to Miranda about how she’s skinny but hates herself because she is not a Runway model. Andrea– screening Miranda’s mail– finds the letter and decides to grant the girl’s wish and send her a special designer dress because New Jersey just doesn’t have any designer stores and she’s oh-so-deprived. (243-245)
  • Andrea bursts into tears in the office of a stranger because the girl points out that her job sucks. (268) Andrea’s seeming epiphany is that other people think her job sucks, too. Nobody else of the dozens of other characters who have told her it’s terrible apparently count.
  • The entire Runway office shuts down to outfit Andrea to go to Paris with Miranda. (291) Because they lack anything better to do than dress a sarcastic, whiny girl up like a doll.

Perhaps the most annoying part of the whole book, the thing which drives me the craziest, and annoys me more than the shallow, whiny characters, is the fact that Andrea Sachs, a girl who apparently graduated from Brown and is a brilliant writer says “natch” more than once.

The Quick Version:

All-in-all, if you don’t mind removing your brain for a few hours while you read it, the book has its entertaining moments. If you want to enjoy the basic story, watch the film. I’d give it 2 of 5.

Still want to read it? Trade for it on Swaptree or Buy it on Amazon

* The Devil Wears Prada is apparently a roman a clef about the author’s time working for Conde Nast. It is thinly veiled.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Chick-Lit