Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
by Kris Radish

Published in 2006. 331 pages.

I didn't much care for this novel. It had its moments, but I wouldn't have gotten past the first several pages if it hadn't been a book club pick (and one of the club rules is that everyone tries to read the month's pick) and I would never have finished it except that, because I told the group, when we met in July, that I didn't much like it (without having finished it), I felt obligated to stick it out to the end (in case it got better). I also wanted to finish reading it so that I would have a basis for comparison for this month's book club discussion - which, coincidentally, will relate to another book in the "chick lit" genre, Sisterchicks on the Loose.

Exactly what is "chick lit", you ask? Well, this is what Wikipedia says:

Chick lit features hip, stylish female protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties, in urban settings (usually London or Manhattan), and follows their love lives and struggles in business (often in the publishing, advertising, public relations or fashion industry). The books usually feature an airy, irreverent tone and frank sexual themes.

By that definition, I guess Annie Freeman doesn't qualify, as the protagonists are more like 40-something. Perhaps, "chick lit" started with that basic premise, but it has expanded in recent years. Here's another definition, from a fan of the genre:
Chick lit is a genre comprised of books that are mainly written by women for women. The books range from having main characters in their early 20's to their late 60's. There is usually a personal, light, and humorous tone to the books. Sometimes they are written in first-person narrative; other time they are written from multiple viewpoints. The plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues, such as love, marriage, dating, relationships, friendships, roommates, corporate environments, weight issues, addiction, and much more.

One of the things I mentioned at July's meeting was a blog post I had just read berating "chick lit" as being to our generation what Harlequin Romances were to our mother's. (I cannot find that post again, or I'd link it here. If you know where it is, please let me know.) I don't necessarily agree with that thesis - and the group agreed - because although we need to read our protein and vegies, sometimes we want to read some chocolate. However, we also agreed that we cannot read only chocolate - and some chocolate is just better written than others.

Our book club has read - and enjoyed - a number of "chick lit" novels in the past, including The Nanny Diaries, Confessions of a Shopaholic (I've become a big fan of Sophie Kinsella!), and just last year, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. All of those are better written than Annie Freeman's Traveling Funeral.


1 comment:

  1. I loved all 3 of those ones, too - especially Angry Housewives. Lorna Landvik writes great stuff. But Sophie Kinsella's also very good for a laugh.