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The Serial Dater's Shopping List (second edition) Kindle Edition
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While it would definitely appeal to Bridget Jones' fans THE SERIAL DATER'S SHOPPING LIST actually tells a better story, one where the main protagonist, Isobel MacFarlane, or Izzy Mac to her friends, is not a journalist desperate to find a man, although she is a journalist. She writes the technology column on a Northamptonshire UK newspaper. The story opens with Izzy just having been given an assignment of a different kind--to join an online dating service and, pretending to be a secretary, date a man a day for a month and write an article about each date. With loose-lipped colleague and friend Donna party to the intrigue keeping her identity secret sometimes takes effort.
The story is written in first person present tense and Bailey handles it well, keeping the pace moving and keeping it entertaining.
I liked the descriptive narrative, such things as ' ... Tea shoots up both nostrils, which isn't pleasant but clears the blockage nicely'. That and many more had me wondering if Bailey is writing much from life and if she actually took on this assignment in the interests of making it come across as real, because it has the ring of authenticity. I was smiling often and even breaking into a grin with some of the dates, and I don't do that often.
The story is interspersed with a well-rounded drawing in of the lives of work colleagues, friends and family--a necessary diversion away from the 31 dates which, as an unbroken litany, could otherwise have become boring even though well told.
This is quality chicklit. The story and characters kept my interest, the writing is polished. My one criticism is the use of whilst, not once but often. I'm Australian and such spellings haven't been common here for years. We go for the simpler while, among, program etc. If I'm being unfair I apologise but after the first couple it annoyed me.
That aside this was a very entertaining read.
And in spite of not really looking, does Izzy actually meet a man she'd like to take home?
This is basically a Sex ’n’ Shopping novel, but without the sex. And it’s hugely enjoyable - without the sex. In diary form Isobel, aka Izzy, gives the reader a daily account of her activities at home, in the office and on the series of dates she is obliged to endure, and possibly enjoy, for 31 days. This project is set up for her by her boss, the somewhat brusque and anti-social William, editor of the local rag. Izzy, a forty year old extrovert lady always up for a challenge, agrees to meet and report on a partner a day (or night) for a whole month.
Isobel is an engaging narrator, witty and intelligent, but addicted to food, very tall, overweight and scatty in the Bridget Jones mould. The fact that the book hovers between Chic-lit and Romance may warn away the highbrows, but for sheer fun and a good laugh it takes a lot of beating. Oddly enough, despite all the chat over the merits and demerits of partners with her friend Donna, their dialogues present a fascinating and revealing, but light-hearted, portrayal of the dating game.
Of course, as Wittgenstein or Einstein have shown us there’s more to life than dating. Here there are no intellectual heavyweights among her partners, but a series of lost souls or guys on the make. The girls, mainly Isobel and Donna, are forever seeking that elusive ‘spark’ in their clients, the lack of which leads to a plethora of comic scenes, when they come up against lechers, smoothies, liars, gamblers, catatonics, drunks, boring environmentalists and a fine selection of male chauvinists.
The danger of becoming bored by all the narrator’s focus on the quotidian details of kitchen and shopping lore is offset by the sheer energy of Isobel, ‘a chatty little soul’ in the phrase she uses to describe one of her clients. Although she spends most of her free time watching soaps or reading thrillers and romances, she is obviously no fool. Even the simple-minded Donna knows her Hamlet and is something of a technocrat. When it comes to men these girls know – or at least think they know – what they want.
No doubt about it, the book is definitely middle-brow entertainment, the story being told almost wholly in the vernacular, larded with cliché and teenage argot (‘yay,’ ‘up the anti’ and ‘sad’ meaning pathetic). It seems authentic to me as do the many references to popular and ‘celebrity’ culture that are outside my experience. But obviously not Izzy’s, a bright lass who tells us ‘I’d like to write a book someday.’
This is a truly delightful and very funny novel about what women look for in a man, about friendship, and about how it is possible to exist on very little sleep and a diet of alcohol and ice cream when you are really busy.
We follow our heroine Izzy as she embarks on a series of dates (all in the line of duty for her job as a journalist) and meets a host of frogs in her quest to find Prince Charming.
Her best friend Donna and her long suffering boss William give her plenty to think about too and in the end...but no, I won't spoil it for you. Just believe me when I tell you that the tale of Izzy and her suitors is like a lovely box of chocolates - you will meet some hard centres and lots of gooey ones, you won't like them all (a few of them are a bit weird), but some are very tasty indeed. You will want to keep on dipping into the box until you have devoured the lot.
Morgen Bailey has written a shopping list that everyone will want to read.