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Isn't It Romantic?: An Entertainment Hardcover – January 7, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ersatz French culture and aw-shucks Americana collide in this corny romantic comedy, a flat-footed departure from form by National Book Award finalist Hansen (Mariette in Ecstasy, etc.). Natalie Clairvaux, a Paris librarian specializing in Americana at the Bibliotheque Nationale, embarks on a grassroots See America bus tour of out-of-the-way U.S. landmarks in an effort to escape the unwanted attentions of her philandering fiance, Pierre Smith, scion of a family of French wine sellers. Maddened by her unexplained disappearance, Pierre tracks her down and catches up with her tour group in Omaha. The quarreling couple abandons the tour at a tiny crossroads outside of Seldom, Neb. (pop. 395), on Wednesday, agreeing that Natalie will reach a decision about their wedding by noon Saturday. In Seldom, the couple is immediately elected king and queen of an annual local festival honoring a Frenchman who founded the town, and all manner of rather predictable fun and games begins. Pierre is quartered with Owen Nelson, whose penchant for wine making is second only to his obsession with Cornhusker football. Disillusioned Natalie is soon captivated by handsome Dick Tupper, a 50-year-old rancher. And, true to form, womanizing Pierre starts hitting on Iona Christiansen, a comely waitress at the local cafe. A wine tasting for hayseeds, a bachelor party (and bridal shower) and a brace of bungled trysts are a few of the stale devices driving this perfunctory farce. The subtitle suggests that Hansen knows this is a lesser effort, and readers will concur with the analysis.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Literary luminary Hansen (Hitler's Niece) has written a short, funny novel not unlike what's available nowadays from good romance writers-except that it's by a man and it costs a whole lot more than a mass market or trade paperback would. (And note that it's novella size, with large margins.) In love with all things American, young Frenchwoman Natalie Clairvaux eschews an August holiday in the south of France and heads for the United States, where she journeys by bus to see la vraie Am rique ("the real America"). Boyfriend Pierre thinks that she's folle ("insane") but nonetheless follows her. An impulsive moment strands them in Seldom, NE, where a cast of zany characters reminiscent of television shows like Ed or Northern Exposure takes center stage. This entourage is led by a sexy waitress named Iona, who falls for Pierre, and Iona's heartthrob, Dick Tupper, who falls for Natalie. That staple of romance, the misunderstanding, leads to the town's preparing for Natalie's marriage to Pierre or is it Dick? Suffice it to say that true love triumphs, and all ends very well indeed. This light, charming, and humorous romp will bring a smile to the face of even the most love-jaded reader. Highly recommended for all collections.
Jo Manning, Barry Univ., Miami Shores, FL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060517662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060517663
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,861,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The characters are extraordinary and hilarious.
Walter Malde
I found this novel to be nothing more than loosely thrown together characters immersed in a weak and scattered plot.
Paige McGeorge
Truly you will laugh out loud as others have said.
Linda Gaines

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a delightful book! I bought it on the strength of the great review I read yesterday in the New York Times. Hansen is a master storyteller and does a wonderful job with this lighthearted and terrific read. I've loved all of the rest of his books (especially "Mariette in Ecstacy") and while this one is a departure for him (that is, romantic comedy) it's a winner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on December 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This short (under 200p) little romance by Ron Hansen is the story of a pair of French lovers on a bus trip across America. As they bicker their way into the Heartland, they plop down in Nebraska and talk on and on, trying to decide if they should marry. It's silly, witty, brainless, irreverent, and laugh-out-loud funny. Of course it's not serious literature, but it's great, great, great. Just have a cup of hot chocolate and a few chocolate chip cookies, settle down in a cozy spot, and enjoy yourself. But be careful not to spill the hot chocolate: guffaws will spring up unannounced.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on April 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the only book I've ever read that reads just like a movie script -- and this is a good thing! Ron Hansen has written an exciting, hilarious story that would fit perfectly on a movie screen without having to chop out any scenes. I loved it; it was entertainment at its finest.
Isn't it Romantic? tells the story of a French couple, Natalie Clairevoux, and her fiance, Pierre Smith, as they journey across America on a bus tour. Natalie, fed up with Pierre's loverboy ways, has decided to take the vacation of her dreams -- alone. But Pierre tracks her down in Omaha, wondering what in the heck? Pierre's cosmopolitian, European self doesn't belong amidst Midwest corn fields, so certainly this vacation of Natalie's must be a joke, right? Some sort of punishment for his waywardness? Then the bus breaks down in Seldom, Nebraska -- population 395 -- and the fun really begins. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, Natalie and Pierre are taken in by the friendly, quirky residents of this sleepy, peaceful town.
I laughed so much at the madcap scenes in this book. I can totally visualize the actions in my head in perfect detail. The citizens of Seldom are one of a kind, especially Owen, who has dreams of marketing his Nebraska wine, and Carlo, the cook at the café, who embarks on a matchmaking mission. Ron Hansen did an incredible job bringing these characters to life, and I will be looking for the movie adaptation in the future (hopefully!).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Walter Malde on February 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ron Hansen's latest novel is a departure from his previous historical novels, but Hansen never ceases to entertain. The characters are extraordinary and hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud and wishing there were someone in the room to whom I could read several sections aloud. I can picture this novel as a movie. The slamming doors of the boarding house on the night of the "Revels" seems right out of Moliere. I've always enjoyed Ron Hansen's writing, and this comic novel does not disappoint.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on August 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really excited to read this little novella. It's rare, but every once in a while, I really crave a good, entertaining romance story, and I particularly prefer the well-written ones that are almost literary. Anyway, a romance novel written by Ron Hansen seemed like it would his the spot. I've read Hansen's Mariette in Ecstasy, and I knew he could write, and I thought that his effort at writing would be an overwhelming success.

I was mostly right. I read the novel for what it was, an entertainment, and I enjoyed it, for the most part. The plot follows two Parisians, Natalie and Pierre, who are engaged but who are considering calling off their marriage. Natalie impulsively takes off on a trip to America, sort of hoping to get away from her fiancé for a while. Of course, Pierre tracks her down in the tiny Redding, Nebraska, and confronts her about their future. And that's the big question of the novel. What's going to happen to this feuding couple? Are they going to marry? Are they going to hook up with someone else? Are they going to go off in their own ways? Of course, the small-town people they're stuck with are weird (as are most small-town people--I live in a small town), and they're going to have some say on the whole matter. It's a good plot. This mixed bag of characters and the awkward situation makes for some really pleasant reading and for some really funny moments.

My primary critique of the novel is that, for me, it never went beyond pleasant. The whole novel struck me as being just too "movieish" (and Hansen modeled this after the screwball comedy of the `30s). By that, I mean several things. First of all, there was just a feel at times that you were reading a pretty good screenplay but a fairly blah novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Lindsey on April 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is fun, funny and light-hearted. I enjoyed it very much. It will make a great chick-flick. It's a little like Lake Wobegon, and a little like Mitford, with a french couple thrown in for flavor. My only problem with this book is that it left me wanting more, which is not always a bad thing. I would have liked a little more detail in some areas. It is very short and would make for a great day of reading at the beach.
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