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Check It Out

Courier Article by Kate Linderman
Sunday, December 7, 2008

'Chick Lit' Writers Shedding 'Lit Light' Reputation

You've seen them in the bookstores, and even at the library ... the soft pink covers, the lilting script, the catchy titles that scream "mindless drivel!"

Since the publication of the blockbuster "Bridget Jones' Diary" by Helen Fielding in 1996, literature of its kind has been slapped with the moniker "chick lit" and marketed to appeal to women in their 20s, 30s and even 40s.

While many people despair of the lack of good popular fiction written for women by women, "chick lit" continues to grow in popularity, depth and message as the preeminent writers of the genre age and experience life as mature women.

In other words, "chick lit" is growing up and out of its nickname. The five biggest chick lit authors, now in their late 30s to mid 40s, are married, have families, and all have published new books in the past six months.

"This Charming Man" is Irish writer Marian Keyes' latest novel.

It is the story of four women and their various encounters with a man who is, by all accounts, at the surface charming, perfect and literally unforgettable ... but also toxic and abusive.

Told from four different points of view, "This Charming Man" is one of the best books I've read this year.

Emily Giffin's new novel, "Love the One You're With," explores that moment some married people have when they inevitably ask themselves, "E what about 'the one who got away'?" "Love the One You're With" explores the emotional roller coaster that goes along with wondering whether or not you married the right person, and what to do about it if you didn't.

Jennifer Weiner returns with "Certain Girls," the follow-up to her enormously successful debut novel, "Good in Bed." Weiner brings back Cannie Shapiro, the heroine of "Good in Bed," and flashes forward 13 years to explore her life as a (sort of) successful writer, the mother of a teenager, and the wife of a doctor.

Is "Certain Girls" as good as the original? It's definitely worth checking out.

Jane Green's "The Beach House" explores the world of an eccentric, lonely Nantucket woman who opens her house to boarders and rediscovers life and love. Green is a British author who routinely writes about life on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sophie Kinsella's "Remember Me?" is lighter fare. It's the story of a successful, shrewish young career woman who loses her memory.

Much like Christina Applegate's character in ABC's "Samantha Who?," amnesia ends up changing this heroine's life for the better, and Kinsella makes her journey of self-re-discovery fun and funny.

So when you're browsing for a book, don't judge it by its cover, even if it happens to be pink and girlie.

"Chick Lit" might sound (and look) mindless, but it continues to broaden its horizons and grow, along with its authors.