Wit, sarcasm, scintillating internal dialogue, impulsivity and self-absorption! These are the words I choose to describe the heroine of this story who has but a single-minded goal- to track-down the editor in chief of the NY Times book reviews and force him to read her book.
Even her name, Mercury Lauren (not to be mistaken for a relation of Ralph Lauren though she admits to trying that on for a few perks), is evidence that she’s a truly unusual gal blessed (or cursed she might say) with an over abundance of personality and originality.
I knew from the opening lines of this book that I was in for a rare treat.
Now doesn’t that have at least a vaguely familiar tone to it for you? It did for me and I perked right up for a truly audacious read (for those who had no deja vu moment, the quote of the book’s first lines is a deliberate misquote of the opening line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice).
And I was not to be disappointed-
I’m not absolutely certain about how Jane would feel to see her P&P remodeled into this modern retelling (since she’s been gone for almost 200 years and I can’t ask), but I think she would appreciate the spunk and yes, folly, of this heroine who like Jane Austen in her time, is fighting to see her work recognized by the authorities that be in the book world. This was a ‘laugh out loud shock my socks off’ initiation into the Romantic Comedy genre (yep, it was my first). Seriously, I’m giving you an unofficial warning label since the book doesn’t come with one. You really shouldn’t read it in public if you are ashamed by the sound of your laugh.
Mercury Lauren hadn’t set out to become a successful author of Chick-lit. The label had just attached itself to her satirical stories and she was stuck with it along with the publisher who’s emblem is a pink eraser. Chick-lit, while successful, is not recognized by the blue-bloods of the book industry and definitely don’t get reviewed by the Times. Mercury has the single-minded purpose to change all that. She brow-beats her agent, Angel, to get her a chance to meet Frank D’Archangelo, the NY Times Book Review Editor in Chief. Angel does that by giving her the extra invitation she has to a book rewards dinner.
And let mayhem commence- Mercury makes a disaster of her opportunity between poor wardrobe choice, mistaken identity and facts, jealousy of rivals and just outright bad luck. When the night is over, she has made herself infamous in the literary world and managed to make plenty sure that Frank will never speak to her again let alone read her book.
The rest of the story is how the intrepid Mercury with all her internal insecurities tenaciously continues to reverse the effects of that evening and gain her goal. And in the process, she starts to gain some wisdom and a change of heart that might lead to an even bigger triumph than getting her book reviewed by the Times.
It is all over the top fun from start to finish which is how I imagine most stories are in the RomCom genre. While I couldn’t exactly relate to Mercury or feel empathetic to her plights because she is the one who gets herself into them, I could root her on toward success. The book is told first person and it is her voice and personality that carries it.
Mercury is surrounded by a great group of characters- her parents, her brother and sister in law, her agent, a fellow writer, a reviewer and of course the NYTBR editor. Each character corresponds with a character from the original P&P story, but while I recognized them and the general story line, I enjoyed the delightful new spin of creativity that Ms. Baratz-Logsted placed on them. Mercury’s brother cracked me up every time he opened his droll, sarcastic mouth and I just wanted to hug poor Angel, Mercury’s longsuffering agent, who was constantly pulled away to do damage control or offer sage advice with Mercury. I was a tad bit disappointed not to get more of Frank’s backstory. There are hints that he is the way he is toward women because of a past history, but it is never really addressed closely. He is enigmatic through much of the story just reacting to Mercury’s outlandishness in cool, collected ways- well except the one glaringly unique scene when he shows he’s as hot-blooded as the next man. Frank was the perfect foil for Mercury just as she was good for him.
Jane Austen purists should be warned that this is a modern retelling where there is at least one hot bedroom scene and other references that have it falling in line with a normal contemporary romance (yes this modern Darcy and Elizabeth as well as Bingley and Jane bring some heat to their story).
I’m in a quote-y mood now so I’m going to quote Mr. Bennet a character from the original P&P tale to sum up what this book seemed to be about.
Recommend for the Romantic Comedy lover and the Austeneque fans who don’t mind a little heat with their humor.