Monday, December 17, 2007

Elegance--Kathleen Tessaro

This is another book that I really like although it has got some issues in characterization and construction. Aside from the a standard chick lit plot, it's actually a book about cognitive behavioral therapy through wardrobe upgrades. So of course I love it, because my family's second motto? "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you do better." (Accordingly, it's been hard for me to live in the Midwest.)

Louise Canova is a hot mess. A failed actress, she now works in the box office of an independent theater in London. She's married, but her husband doesn't want to have a meaningful conversation with her. Her mother-in-law is the bitchy Mona, a former model. And she's just been mistaken as pregnant at a fashion photographer's retrospective which prominently features dear Mona. At the end of her rope, Louise clings to an old copy of the book Elegance by Madame Genevieve Dariaux, a book written in the late 1950's that promises to help women develop their own style and sense of chic. And as Louise follows Mme. Dariaux's advice and starts to finally care for herself, old patterns are disrupted and her life changes in hard ways.

The characters aren't well-developed, and the villains are especially cartoonish. It often seems like Tessaro has a checklist of Lifetime movie issues into cram into Louise's psyche and explain how she wound up in her terrible situation. But there's some hilarious writing once Louise starts hanging around the British upper classes, and yes--it ends with Louise happy. So despite the flaws it's a satisfying read.

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