Thursday, July 17, 2008
With a first line like this, who needs Adam & Eve!
Review - Tan Lines by J.J. Salem
Liza Pike is a lipstick feminist with a bestselling novel, a weekly guest spot on a political newsmagazine, a ticking biological clock, and a gorgeous husband who never touches her. Billie Shelton is a one-hit-wonder trying to salvage her dying career by seducing her producer. Kellyanne Downey is an aspiring actress with a past she would like to forget, whose bills are currently being paid by a 60-year-old married man. These three college friends who normally get together for one weekend a year are about to spend an entire summer season living together in a rented house in the Hamptons. The community - and the men - will never be the same.
This novel is trashy beach fluff personified. It has a blurb by Jackie Collins, and a dedication to Jacqueline Susann, so that should be a warning to potential readers who are looking for style and substance. It is, however, a whole lot of fun. It's a bit like reading a gossip magazine - you know you really shouldn't be interested, but somehow you can't stop. There is enough sex to make it a perfect read for lounging by the pool on vacation, and the plot moves quickly enough that it is impossible to get bored.
In novels like this, often the main characters are so one-dimensional that it is difficult to root for them. Liza and Kellyanne, however, are intriguing, with many facets to their personalities. The author gives them each struggles that are easy to identify with, so the reader is able to sympathize with them, even as we watch them make really stupid mistakes. Billie is harder to like - I found myself uncomfortable much of the time when reading the sections about her. Good characters always need some flaws, but she has so many that it almost makes her irredeemable. I actually felt relieved when she rather abruptly dropped out of the novel near the end.
If you are looking for a fun, fast read to take on vacation this year, I think this novel would certainly fit the bill. Don't expect a literary masterpiece - just get hooked by the first line, and enjoy the ride.
Source: review copy from St. Martin's Press
Here's a video shot by the publishers of a bunch of random, unsuspecting strangers reading the first line outloud - it's definitely an attention-grabber!