And as you will have seen from the cover image, for the first time in months, I read more than two books in a month, look at that progress. I almost included a fourth book, because I finished it on July 1st and read most of it in June, but I technically finished it in July so it doesn’t belong here.
Book 1// Book Lovers by Emily Henry
This is one of the most hyped rom-com books this summer, it’s supposed to be a satire of a rom-com, maybe not as far as satire, but it is touted as making fun of the rom-com book genre. I think it just falls squarely in the rom-com genre.
It follows Nora Stephens, the classic rom-com super uptight big city executive, except in this version she is a book editor. And she has been left by multiple boyfriends for a girl they met while in small town for work on their high-powered jobs, as in the city girlfriend in every hallmark movie, the villain. One of her authors writes rom-coms, and Nora pitches one of them to one of the big New York editors, Charlie Lastra, in a disastrous lunch meeting. The book gets published without Charlie and is a runaway success, loved by everyone, including Nora’s sister, Libby, who is heavily pregnant and begs Nora to take a month long vacation in the small North Carolina town of Sunshine Falls that the book is set in. But when they arrive, the town is nothing like it was made out to be in the book, it is a podunk, with nothing much to do, and nowhere to go. But Libby is determined to loosen up her sister and make her like this little town, even though Nora can tell there is something Libby isn’t telling her.
On arrival to this little town, Nora runs into the last possible person she expects to see, Charlie Lastra, Between Charlie being in town, her favorite author’s new book that they are editing together (which is clearly and slightly unflatteringly inspired by Nora), and Libby’s machinations, it is only a matter of time before this rom-com novel follows exactly the path laid out by all rom-coms before it.
This is a nice summer book, it’s a nice fluffy summer romance doing exactly what you expect it to. I think I was slightly disappointed because it was so hyped up as making fun of all the rom-com tropes, which it does do a bit, but not to the extent I expected. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, but it’s not genre-busting by any means. 3/5 for not meeting the hype, maybe 4/5 if I hadn’t seen the hype.
Book 2// Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor
This book is inspired by the line in The Great Gatsby “I hope she’ll be a fool, the best thing a girl can be in this world is beautiful little fool”, said by Daisy Buchanan about her daughter. This book follows each of the women mentioned by Fitzgerald in the book, Daisy Buchanan (the object of Gatsby’s obsession) and her sister Rose (killed in a train accident as a child with Daisy’s father, whose death was the reason she married Tom Buchanan – for his money to take care of their mother), Jordan Baker (the golfer accused of moving a ball and Daisy’s childhood best friend), Catherine McCoy (the sister of the woman Tom Buchanan is having an affair with in The Great Gatsby), and Mrytle Wilson (the woman Tom is having an affair with who is brutally killed by either Daisy or Gatsby in the original book). We meet the women and follow them through their lives both before and after they encounter tragedy in West Egg and with Jay Gatsby.
I really enjoyed this book, Fitzgerald isn’t exactly renowned for his portrayal of well-rounded, fully formed female characters, and while I’ve always enjoyed The Great Gatsby, it would be my favorite classic novel, I’ve always been unsatisfied in the way all the women, but especially Myrtle and Daisy are portrayed. We know so much about Gatsby, Tom Buchanan, and even Nick Carraway, but we only see the women through the men’s eyes, and we all know that men are excellent at discerning women (laced with sarcasm). So, yeah I would recommend, maybe only a 3/5, I don’t know if I would buy it again, but I would check it out from the library or borrow it from a friend.
Book 3// Our American Friend by Anna Pitoniak
This was truly superb, it’s the first book I didn’t want to put down in a while.
This book tells the story of a journalist asked by the very secretive and private First Lady of the United States, who is clearly based off Melania Trump. The First Lady is an immigrant to the United States from Russia, who came over on some modelling jobs and then married a wealthy New York business man, Henry Caine, in order to stay in the country, and then that man ran for President and that is really all we know about her.
Until she approaches this journalist, Sofie Morse, who had just quit her job as a reporter after spending the past four years covering the Caine presidency and his re-election and had decided that if he was re-elected she was done. She really did quit her job with no plans, but no one believes her, thinking she must have had a biography of the First Lady lined up before quitting. Sofie and Lara Caine spend hours together, with Sofie interviewing Lara, her mother, and her sister, about Lara’s life before Henry Caine. Her father had been an official in the USSR government, eventually getting posted to Paris, where Lara spent most of her formative childhood years, and had her first boyfriend, her only true love. And when Sofie learns the big secret that Lara has been keeping she can’t keep it to herself and she publishes the story in her old paper, and then hears nothing from the First Lady for months, until suddenly First Lady Lara Caine is in Sofie’s apartment, with two men, one Sofie is intimately familiar with, and one who knew Lara in another life.
This book was SO GOOD, it is so good that it almost feels like it has to be real. First Lady Lara Caine is so well-developed, so based off Melania Trump, and Henry Caine so like President Trump, that it feels like the author must know Melania Trump intimately and have written this slightly fictionalized account of her real life story. The story is gripping, exciting, and tragic all at the same time. 5/5 for sure.
I’m off to a great start for July for sure, I have already read two books over the long weekend, and started a third.