Thursday, July 22, 2021

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

 

Man, people go hard on these quasi-retro chick-lits, don't they? I'm not sure what people expected from this one, bar a fanciful, wish fulfillment fantasy, but if you were going into this expecting something life-changing, I suppose, yes, you're going to be very disappointed. Keeping in mind that all of Meg Cabot's heroines sound exactly like what I imagine Meg Cabot probably sounds like (in that they are all the same person with different hair colors), I found this incredibly relatable and funny since I tend to yammer on when I get nervous and sometimes find myself saying things I shouldn't, ESPECIALLY after a drink or two, IYKWIM. "Nenia, shut up," is a refrain I hear a lot. I'm sorry. I have a big mouth. That's why I blog.

Lizzie is a bit of a doofus and a space cadet. She's a fashion major and thinks she's graduated, only to realize that she hasn't, actually, because there was a senior thesis she, whoops, forgot to do. But the consolation is that she's off to England for the summer to stay with her long distance boyfriend who, whoops, actually sees her as a booty call and he's told all his friends and family that she's fat. Also, he gambles and is bad with money. What a prize.

Luckily, Lizzie has enough sense-- eventually-- to dump this toad and go stay with her friends in the French countryside where they're doing minimal helping out for an upcoming family wedding in exchange for food, wine, and free board. Sounds like a deal to me! On the train, Lizzie meets this super hot guy who, it turns out, is the son of the owner of the estate. And, whoops, she's confided way too much of her personal life to him including her thesis and some of the sexual stuff between Mr. Git. And now she's going to spend her vacation with him-- and his way too hot French Canadian girlfriend.

So here's the thing. This is a lot like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS in that it's vicarious travel porn, but also sort of tries to cutesy-fi American ignorance about foreign customs. A lot of American movies and shows set abroad do this, where none of the characters bother to do any sort of research into local customs and then they show up in their white sneakers and khaki shorts, with their Lakers baseball caps and their American flag fanny packs, and they're like, "WOW, HOW DID EVERYONE KNOW I WAS AN AMERICAN? HEY GARCON, FETCH ME SOME POO-LAY NUGGETS PLEASE."

Gee, I wonder. *eye roll*

It's also like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS in that the heroine is essentially the OW and the book tries to make that okay by making the hero's girlfriend as awful as possible. Fake tits? HOW DARE SHE. WHAT A HO. I actually really liked Dominique. For a bitchy girlfriend she was actually pretty entertaining and I stan a woman who's confident enough to spend $600 on shoes. What makes this tolerable is that the hero and the heroine don't actually do anything until the girlfriend is broken up, so the whole relationship is basically just there to make her feelings forbidden and add angst.

But overall, I really liked it. I liked that the heroine was so interested in fashion and how that was incorporated into the story. I liked the way that the French culture was represented and the American doofiness-abroad was pretty toned down for books of this type. Lizzie was really dumb sometimes but she's just out of college and I was really dumb when I was in my early twenties, too. Learning to be not-dumb is part of growing up (ideally). The side characters were fun and there's kind of a secondary romance with the hero's estranged parents that was REALLY, REALLY cute.

So if you like Meg Cabot, you'll like this. It feels like exactly what it is: an early 2000s rom-com. If they ever make a movie of it, I'll definitely be watching it.

4 out of 5 stars

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