From Publishers Weekly
Rosenfeld's funny, sassy, uneven second novel picks up where her debut, What She Saw..., left off. Serial dater Phoebe Fine-who's pushing 30 and is fed up with men, her job and "feeling as if she had to be at the right party in possession of the right bag and shoes... the right cocktail of ebullience and ennui" has quit Manhattan for her parents' home in suburban New Jersey. There she embarks on a new career of selling her neighbors' trash on eBay, suffers through intense sibling rivalry with her cartoonishly selfish sister and cares for her ailing mother. She also falls for Roget Mankuvsky, the new conductor of the orchestra in which her father plays oboe (readers of Rosenfeld's debut may remember him as her first love, Roger Mancuso, "The Stink Bomb King of Whitehead Middle School"). Rosenfeld nimbly sends up New York strivers and their suburban counterparts, including her heroine ("That was the time when Phoebe could say to herself, I've had sex with a multimedia artist in a converted loft on Wooster Street and it would mean something to her"). Though formerly feisty Phoebe can be a bit more pathetic than sympathetic at times (her list of reasons to live include "Not a burn victim" and "Don't live in the Third World"), her travails are often hilarious. Rosenfeld stumbles into a few easy cliches and occasionally slips into farce, as when Phoebe gets caught going through the garbage of a classmate who's now a big-shot banker. Still, her style is witty and winning, and those who cheered Phoebe on through the dating minefields of the first novel will enjoy this chapter of her life, implausible happy ending and all.
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Readers familiar with observant, quirky Phoebe Fine from Rosenfeld's debut novel, What She Saw In . . . (2000), will be delighted to see her return in this captivating follow-up. Phoebe is on the cusp of 30, somewhat disgruntled that she is no closer to being settled than she was in her early 20s. Having lost yet another job (gainful employment just doesn't agree with Phoebe), she finds herself moving back to her parents' New Jersey home. Just because she is in a bit of a funk doesn't mean Phoebe is sitting idly by; she decides to plunder the trash of town residents, looking for treasures to sell on eBay. She also bickers with her elder sister, Emily, who has also arrived, fresh from her failed marriage, at the Fine family home. And Phoebe even finds time to squeeze in a romance with brusque, off-putting orchestra conductor Roget Mankuvsky. The joy of reading about Phoebe's madcap adventures comes as much from her wry observations as from what she actually does. Twenty- and thirtysomethings experiencing the same ennui as Phoebe will relate to her struggles in this charming, often hilarious novel. Kristine Huntley
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