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All the Right Elements, but Never Comes Together
on January 8, 2010
"Easily Amused" has all the basic ingredeints of a good chick lit/light romance hybrid: the likeable single woman who's ready to meet someone special; two men (sortof) vying for her affection; a caring best friend; some nosey neighbors; and a troublemaking little sister. The writing is also smooth and engaging, and there are some good lines, although I'm not in agreement with those who thought this book was uproarious. It's cute, but some of the humor is cliched, and it's more subtle than hysterical.
The problem for me was poor plotting. The first third of the book meanders from scene to scene, with no clear sense of the actual story. It's fun at first--the excerpt does leave one wanting more. But after several more pages, I couldn't help but think: "Is there a point to any of this?" We meet Lola (yes, the requisite Barry Manilow reference does happen), who has an interesting sounding job and annoying co-workers, but that part of the story goes nowhere. Then we have her best female friend, Piper, who's annoying Lola with her obsession with her baby boy, but that never really goes anywhere, either. Finally, we have Hubert, her best male friend, who's devastated over being dumped by his hateful sounding girlfriend, Kelly. He's mopey and pathetic in the beginning, and essentially moves in with Lola. From there, the story morphs into a pseudo triangle with Ryan, Lola's mysterious neighbor, on one side, and Hubert, who shifts from heartbreak over Kelly to wanting to marry Lola in a totally unbelievable instant.
In fact, considering where the novel ends up, I don't understand why the author crafted the first part of the story the way she did. There's no sexual tension, or sense that Hubert has yearned for Kelly (although we're told later he did) so the romantic twist and resolution is ultimately unsatisfying. Plus, Ryan and Lola's sister (so irritating I blocked out her name) are caricatures rather than fleshed out characters--they never felt real to me. As for the neighbors, I simply can't agree with those who found them to be like people they know. I can't agree because I never felt like the author developed these characters at all. They morph together into a united force of buttinskies with no carved out personalities of their own. Lots of lost potential there.
If you're thinking about ordering this book, I do think it's a good price, and it is well written, but imo, the story and pacing needed more work. It read like a first draft to me in terms of plotting, even with the decent prose.