Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. This month the bubble burst, with not one, but three literary disappointments. It just goes to show, that male or female – good authors are sometimes hard to find. Roll on June!
On Becoming Fearless…, by Arianna Huffington
Admittedly this isn’t her latest book, but I had high hopes for the journalist and founder of the Huffington Post. It’s not that this is a bad book, it’s just that I’m not sure I gained a lot from reading it. It doesn’t have much practical advice – and where it does, it’s often of the LA ‘go for regular 6-hour hikes and floss your teeth with kale’ variety – and there’s a lengthy chapter on having faith in God which took me rather off-guard. As an atheist, I have nothing against the idea of God per se, but I wasn’t sold on the argument that faith will improve everything from my love life to my career. Nor will kale, for the record. She wrote the book in 2007 for her daughters, and frankly I think it would have been better served as a letter to them, rather than a manifesto for the modern woman.
#GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amoruso
I decided to look further afield for inspiration from ballsy women, and settled on the CEO and founder of Nasty Gal (massive-selling clothing website which began as a one-woman eBay operation). Sophia is young – she’s only just turned 30 – has built a strong business and made millions of dollars. But…while she’s inspiring and interesting, creative and dynamic, #GIRLBOSS is, essentially, a great article strung out to make a book. She has an interesting background, having dropped out of school and lived a rather feral lifestyle before finding success, but her whole story fits into the opening chapter or two, and is then re-hashed and sifted through in (far too much) detail over the coming pages. I wanted to love it, but while I warmed to her, I was ultimately a bit bored.
Frances & Bernard, by Carlene Bauer
I can’t work out whether I would have hated this novel under any circumstances, or whether it’s because I was filled with the injustice of having been mis-sold it. As it is, whoever wrote the cover blurb has some questions to answer – I picked it up expecting a romantic jaunt across New York with a mismatched, happy-go-lucky pair who enjoy a cocktail or two in a jazz bar. I didn’t expect the coldest, least sympathetic heroine I’ve ever come across to repeatedly spurn the advances of a hyperbolic, needy man, all through the form of letters written back and forth, almost all of which talk incessantly about God. At one point Frances worries that she hasn’t thought enough about God (about a half page after his last appearance) and I actually laughed aloud. The closest I came to the rapture was when I had finished it.