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Check It Out

Courier Article by Kate Linderman
Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer 'Chick Lit' Releases are Big Step Forward

Two new chick lit works this summer aren't really chick lit all - they're nonfiction books that read a lot like fiction.

Julie Metz, a freelance designer and artist, was working the morning her 44-year-old husband dropped dead in her kitchen. Devastated and grief-stricken, Metz did not discover her husband's ultimate betrayal until six months later - he'd been having affairs with women all over the country, including one of her friends.

"Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal" is Metz's story of not only the discovery of her husband's transgressions, but of her need to make sense of it all by tracking down and talking to his lovers, rebuilding her life in the process.

Another gripping nonfiction must-read for women is Leslie Morgan Steiner's "Crazy Love." As a young editorial assistant in New York, Steiner met, fell in love with and married a man who became controlling and abusive. A recovering addict, Steiner recounts the relationship and how, in order to save herself, she had to abandon it completely. The book is riveting and devastating, but also timely, compelling and well-written.

A couple of notable new "literary chick lit" works recently have been published.

"Trouble," by Kate Christensen is about the midlife crisis of a New York psychoanalyst who abandons her loveless marriage and attempts to find herself on holiday in Mexico City with a famous friend. It's a dark, stirring novel and it's an exciting, compelling read.

"Commencement" is a debut novel by J. Courtney Sullivan, described by Booklist as "feminist chick lit." It's the story of four friends who meet as roommates their freshman year at Smith College. When they reunite four years after graduation at a wedding, they find life taking each of them in different directions, but that they're oddly attempting to figure out the same thing - what their opportunities, combined with their "feminist" education, means.

Lighter fare this summer includes two new novels by established chick lit authors. "Queen Takes King" is the latest book by Gigi Levangie Grazer. The book details the high profile divorce of a wealthy mogul and his abandoned wife of 25 years. The subject matter isn't surprising, since Grazer and her wealthy husband divorced in 2008. "Queen Takes King" is not groundbreaking, but it's entertaining, and Grazer always delights in her descriptions of Hollywood and New York society. If you're looking for summer fluff, this is the book for you.

Finally, Nancy Thayer returns with "Summer House," a novel chronicling the struggles of three generations of women within a wealthy Nantucket family. The novel's setting, coupled with the right balance of family drama and romance make "Summer House" worth put ting on your list of books to read this summer. It's perfect to enjoy at the beach or on a chaise on the porch with a glass of iced tea.

Kate Linderman is a reader's adviser at Central Library. She can be reached via e-mail at katel@evpl.org.