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Be Careful What You Wish for - Alexandra Potter
Member Name: MALU
Be Careful What You Wish for - Alexandra Potter
Date: 06/05/09, updated on 10/05/09 (197 review reads)
Advantages: not too many
The young women from Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, to name the three largest cities in GB after the capital, to say nothing of the ones in places like Nether-Piddleton-on-the-Marshes, must have a satisfying love life. I can't call myself an expert on chick lit novels, but the ones I've read were only ever set in London. A chick lit novel without problems is unthinkable, so if chicks from other parts of the country aren't chosen as protagonists, it can only mean that they haven't got any or enough problems worth writing about. It can't be that London is more fascinating than other cities because often nothing is made of it besides it serving as an opportunity for name (of sights) dropping. "Sitting opposite him in his large corner office, which has huge glass windows with an amazing view of the London Eye (sic!)".
I've noticed that the protagonists of chick lit novels are either women belonging to the higher strata of society incorporating a life style the average reader can only dream of or they're just like you and me created for identification. Well, not like me, I'm so not the target reader! I read, enjoy the story if possible and dissect trying to find out how the average Londoner of the female persuasion ticks. Not living in the country this is my only way of getting near this species.
Thirty-something Heather Hamilton has been an assistant to a wedding photographer for six years. This is not the job she's dreamt of when studying photography, but somehow nothing better has come her way yet. After living with her boyfriend for three years, buying a flat with him, separating from him because he was cheating on her and living alone for a year or so she has to look for a flatmate so that she can pay off the remaining credit.
A young American applies, he's come to the UK for the Edinburgh Festival where he wants to perform as a stand-up comedian. Bad luck for him that Heather hates stand-up comedy, good luck for him that he's the only applicant. Heather has a crush on her neighbour living on the opposite side of the street, but he doesn't seem to know that she exists.
One day a gypsy makes her buy a sprig of white heather which will fulfil her wishes, she warns her, however, to wish wisely. Although Heather isn't superstitious, she can't help noticing that all her small, everyday wishes come true, a seat on the tube, for example, she then becomes bold and wishes her neighbour to notice her and fall in love with her.
According to chick lit formula the woman is first without a man and then has two - which one to choose? The neighbour who turns out to be Mr Absolutely Perfect or the Californian Sunny Boy with flaws? No disappointment here, the story wavers to and fro between the two options until one of them wins. In this respect the reader isn't disappointed, she gets what she's paid for.
What disappoints me, however, is what a silly cow this Heather is. She reads nothing, knows nothing, has no sense of humour, lives like a pig, is never able to give a reasonable answer when asked even the simplest question, conversations make her feel "nervous and awkward". She stutters, blushes, uh-huhs, the only utterances that come fluently out of her mouth are, "F***" and "Sh**". But then, what can one expect from an author who writes, "A stunned silence settles between Daniel and *I* (!) like dust after an explosion."?
Of course, Heather needs ages until she knows what to wear. Of course, her wardrobe is full of things she never wears. Of course, she thinks she's got cellulite. Of course, she drinks too much and then gets the most terrible hangovers. Of course, her boss is gay and her best friend black (or is it the other way round?).
So, what's new? Nothing really, I'm afraid. The only positive thing I can find in the book is the description of Heather's relationship with her step-mother, but this is of minor importance in the story. If Heather Hamilton is the prototype of the current female Londoner, I can only pity her and her sisters.
Like many chick lit novels also Be Careful What You Wish For is too long. 368 pages may not seem exaggerated but there's superfluous padding in it. At the beginning we get an extensive list of Heather's wishes and near the end this list is repeated in a flashback. Really!
The first person account in the Present Tense doesn't attract me, either. The breathlessness and immediacy it creates gets on my nerves and deffo doesn't draw me into the story as intended. Nah, if it has to be chick lit (and occasionally it has to be!), then there are better books on the market.
Summary: a young Londoner's love life