I read Good In Bed when it got donated to the Travelling Suitcase Library a couple of years ago, enjoyed it, but wasn’t fussed enough to learn more. I only realised In her Shoes, one of my favourite go-to films when I want to sob, was based on a book by the same woman when I saw this in The Works in Huddersfield shopping with my G-Ma last Autumn. They were on two-for-a fiver, so I got that one and she got an Emma Blair and we both left happy. I love my G-Ma.
I love In Her Shoes because a) it gave me the line ‘1994 called, it wants its scrunchie back’, which can be brought out for any occasion and b) teeny weeny girl crush on Toni ‘Muriel’ Collette. The book, which to be honest isn’t as good as the film, is a nice slice of chick lit that would make a perfect beach read. Fans of Marian Keyes take note: she might be Pennsylvanian Jewish instead of Irish Catholic, but the wit, and the warmth, is exactly the same.
Rose is the frumpy, but bright, older sister to the slim, beautiful Maggie, who has men, wrapped around her little finger. I in no way empathised with Rose’s character.
When Maggie gets evicted and looses her job again, it is up to Rose to put her up. This goes horribly wrong and the sisters fall out, only to be reunited when a box of letters their mysterious grandmother is found.
After their mother died when they were children and their father remarried the dreadful Sydelle Rose has always covered up for Maggie’s mistakes. Maggie, who has severe dyslexia, was badly done by at school and has never had a job lasting more than six months. The way that the world is run means hardly any support for her. She cannot read the teleprompter when she otherwise nails an audition for MTV, she cannot do maths in her head quickly and so struggles whenever a cash register fails on her. These frustrations exacerbate her and drive her to feeling worthless about everything but her looks, which she then judges other by. What I liked most about Maggie was who sympathetic Jennifer Weiner made her, she could just have been the skinny girl the reader could bitch about, but by showing her being assaulted, struggling with the world, I wanted her to succeed. I eventually ended up rooting for Maggie a lot more than I did for Rose, who would have been fine anyway.
Then there is the girl’s estranged grandmother Ella, who lives in an active senior’s retirement complex in Florida. Her amazing friend Mrs Lebowitz was by far the best thing about this novel, but Jennifer Weiner successfully showed the difference between generations and how love is not just reserved for the young with Ella’s story.
There are parts of this book that drag slightly, but I think only because I’ve seen the film, which cut them. But I really enjoyed this book as a nice bit of fluff the week after something heavy (The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric, which N has already reviewed, and require some serious soothing fluff afterward) and I would recommend romance and chick lit fans to get into her.
3/5, a lot of fun.