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A Little Change of Face (Red Dress Ink Novels) Paperback – July 1, 2005
Scarlett Jane Stein has always turned men's heads. With her long, black hair and perfect breasts, she draws attention wherever she goes. But an adult case of the chicken pox and the words of her envious friend Pam make Scarlett start to wonder if her looks, not her personality, are the only reason men like her. So Scarlett opts for a "makeunder," cutting off her long hair and dressing in dowdy clothing. Determined to truly reinvent herself, Scarlett quits her job at the Danbury Library, changes her name to Lettie Shaw, and gets herself hired at the smaller Bethel Library. She sets her sights on Saul, a handsome investment adviser she meets in a bar who, sure enough, just wants to be friends, that is, until Scarlett defrumps at a Halloween party. But one of the library's patrons--Steve Holt, a window painter--seems to be taking to Lettie just as she is. Baratz-Logsted offers a clever twist on makeover fiction. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
". . . chick-lit with a twist!" -- Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, on Crossing the Line
"A Little Change of Face not only has something to say about how women look, and are looked at . . ." -- Christopher Moore, author of Lamb and Fluke
"Lauren Baratz-Logsted has a great voice." -- Romantic Times on Crossing the Line
"[A] terrific read -- a story that is dryly funny, brightly written and emotionally satisfying." -- Peter Lefcourt, author of Eleven Karens and The Woody, on Crossing the Line
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I get what the author tries to do with this book. I can appreciate how different this is from cookie-cutter chick-lits out there. Most of the characters aren't very likable (especially Pam. What a petty, jealous person! And how on earth did Scarlett not see through her?), including the heroine, whom I had a hard time identifying with for most of the novel. The only thing she and I have in common is that we love books... and that we're both vertically challenged (I, too, am only five feet tall)... and we're brown-eyed brunettes... and the breasts thing rings a bell. Okay, okay, so we do have a few things in common, but the similarities end there. I appreciate her personality flaws and the fact that she cannot see what is so patently obvious. We've all been there at some point in our lives. The thing is that I liked the premise, appreciated the message, but disliked the execution. I couldn't get into this novel, which is a shame, for Lauren Baratz-Logsted is a talented writer. I LOVED her novel Vertigo and I really wanted to love this one too. Alas, I didn't. One of the chapters starts out with something along the lines of, "I bet you're dying to know about my breasts." Uh, no! Have lunch with one of your friends and have her talk to you about her breasts and see how fun that is. Only men would find the aforementioned topic interesting. Anyway, I bought How Nancy Drew Saved My Life and I have my fingers crossed, hoping that book will be better than this one.
As Scarlett undergoes these changes Pam undergoes some of her own. Beautifying herself; perhaps to take over Scarlett's place. She enjoys the changes a little bit too much, "Pam surveyed my reflection in the mirror with satisfaction--the shapeless mauve dress, my short hair, my glasses--the same reflection that caused me such unease because I felt as though I didn't know this woman."
When Scarlett... ur... um.. Lettie continues to attract men in her lopped off hair and moomoo Pam becomes increasingly frustrated. Her jealousy becomes obvious, "Oh, shit," Pam muttered. "It doesn't matter what I do to you, does it? Someone still finds you attractive."
Throughout all this Scarlett/Lettie keeps her "best girlfriend", who she grew up with, informed of the changes. Best girlfriend thinks Pam has ulterior motives but Scarlett/Lettie seems blind to them. She's so worried about her friend she travels to rescue her from this so called "friend". When Lettie begins to question, Pam insists, "I'm your friend. I'm trying to help you find out if people like you merely for what you look like and not who you are."
Scarlett/Lettie begins to see changes in herself and learn more about herself as Lettie than she did as Scarlett. At one point she gets locked up in a split personality you think will land her in an institution but she recovers. This story isn't without love interests. There's Saul the business guy and Steve the artist. Most of Scarlett/Lettie's relationships have been about sex and most particularly her breasts (men love her breasts... Scarlett loves her breasts). She has never really had someone say she was funny, smart or good company. Lettie has opened Scarlett up to a whole new life and she's enjoying it. Her problem is combining the two lives and deciding on which man she loves and who loves her for who she is but will they forgive the deception?
I'm on a "that" tangent lately and can't seem to get it out of my head when I'm reading, especially if it's blatantly overused. This book had it's "that" moments, "it seems equally likely that that same culture that built the Parthenon and that treats flying tableware as objects..." The settings were carefully considered but I didn't find the antics of this thirty-nine-year old believable: ducking behind trees, playing a post office game. She is judgemental, self involved and immature, making it hard to like her. By the end she learns her assumptions about others aren't what they seem and gains perspective not only on others but on herself. But by then it was too late, my interest in her was beyond saving. Reviewed by M. E. Wood
However, Scarlet begins to think perhaps Pam has a point. After all, she is 39 and still hasn't found The True Love. So intrigued and perhaps a little bit bored with her life, she uproots herself into a neighboring town, got a job at the local library and changed her name and looks.
It's a cute idea ~~ and this book would be delightful if it weren't for all the whining going on in there ~~ and if the characters weren't so self-absorbed. It is a quick read ~~ fun to read while at the beach or in the bathtub ~~ but her book, Crossing the Line, is definitely the best one yet.
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