Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Star Book Review: The Big Love by Sarah Dunn (Audio); Narrated by Eliza Foss

     As many of you already know, one of my major aspirations in life is to become a published chick lit author. On my journey I have read two very influential books on “how to” become a successful chick lit writer; one, Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley; and two, See Jane Write: A Girls Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs. Mlynowski and Jacobs (2006) book mentioned Sarah Dunn’s The Big Love over and over, citing her writing process and quoting some of the more efficient and notable lines from the novel. It has been on my “to-be-read” (or listened to) list ever since.

     Published in 2004, I considered this to be one of the earlier books of the chick lit genre, keeping this in mind as I heard the very much traditional and formulaic chick lit plot with which this book centered itself around. In such a “classic” style, the female heroine is catapulted on a search for self after losing the thing nearest and dearest to her heart (usually a boyfriend). To (very) briefly sum up this type of plot (or at least my interpretation of such a plot): girl loses boy; in turn, girl loses sense of self; girl forced to search for self; just when things seem to be going well, boy (or another boy) comes back; girl either decides she wants boy or that she doesn’t need him to survive; girl solidifies sense of self and accepts life and self for the better; and usually she lives happily ever after (with or without boy). Of course, most novels are much more complex than my (very) brief interpretation, and often throw in a few unique and unpredictable curve balls, but basically, I believe this was the formula most often followed in early, “classic” chick lit novels.

     Many things made The Big Love stand out for me apart from other ‘classic” chick lit books. I especially enjoyed the creativity of the opening premise in which the author chose to set the scene for main character, Alison, to lose the “love of her life”; Alison’s boyfriend leaves in the middle of a dinner party, with the excuse that he is just running to the store to get a bottle of mustard, only he never comes back. Not only does he not come home, but he calls to tell her that he’s been having an affair with his ex-girlfriend and is madly in love with her again – all the while, Alison’s dinner guests are still at their house. As the story continues, Alison is set up on various dates; contemplates the saga of her relationship and what led up to its demise and above all, begins a search for self as “Alison” rather than as “so-and-so’s girlfriend”. She finds herself wondering, was her ex “the big love”? Is there such a thing as “the big love”?

     I’m so glad I listened to the unabridged audio version, read by Eliza Foss. With its combination of a classic story line, winning female heroine, and fantastic narration, The Big Love had me at from its inception. Eliza Foss did a good job portraying each character, namely Alison, as she made her way on a journey in search of self in this comical and heartfelt story. Listen to the full audio to find out what she concludes in her quest for The Big Love.

Star Rating: 3 stars

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