Friday, November 17, 2006

Romance Like in the Movies

It's a Friday, and I'm at home. That's such a new and different thing for me. It's been about a month since I got to be at home on a Friday night, and it's such a good feeling to know I have nothing ahead of me tonight but an evening on the sofa with the Sci Fi Channel and my electric blanket. I've got a frozen pizza to bake (the good kind, with the rising crust), and I have an apple cake I baked last night (from my new Joy of Cooking book). Yes, call me Miss Excitement!

I'm really luxuriating in this homebody thing, and it's the perfect time of year for it, too. It's finally getting cold enough for things like hot cider and the electric blanket. That's why Wednesday was such a great reading day, and I had the perfect book for it.

Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos, is something that might fit into the chick lit category, given the overall tone and subject matter, but I don't know if it would piss off the author to have it classified that way, since she's got a PhD in creative writing and is a poet. Her background as a poet shows through in the way she uses words, but really, the book is romantic in a swoonworthy way that makes you think of old movies.

There are two "heroines" with parallel story lines that eventually intersect. Cornelia is a 30-something woman who still isn't sure what she wants to be when she grows up. She has a habit of seeing the world in terms of old movies (she moved to Philadelphia primarily because that's where The Philadelphia Story was set), so when a Cary Grant lookalike walks into the coffee shop she runs, she takes it as a sign that her life is about to change. And she's right.

Meanwhile, there's Clare, eleven years old and living a privileged life with her glamorous single mother. But then her mother starts acting odd and Clare doesn't know where to turn for guidance other than her list of favorite literary orphans (including Anne Shirley, Mary Lennox and Harry Potter).

This book's a two-hankie tearjerker that also makes you laugh and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy by the end. It makes you want to go out and fall in love like they do in old movies. It's also the kind of book that makes me feel like a hack. I'm not sure I have it in me to write something that lovely because that's just not the way I write. I'm more of a storyteller than a wordsmith, and if I started trying to get all poetical with my language, it would only come across as affected, like a high school paper written by a kid who's just discovered the thesaurus.

One of my favorite passages:
"I'm a fan of suggestion, obliquity, discretion, the cut to the morning after, the camera's eye turning upward, outward -- to the sky, to the cuckoo clock over the bed, to the rushing river, away. Forget those slick bodies tangled on the floor or grappling on kitchen tables. Sexy is Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed talking into the same telephone receiver, their anger tipping reluctantly over into desire, the desire as much in the distance separating their two mouths as in their proximity to each other."

And yeah, that's one of my favorite scenes in It's a Wonderful Life, too. Though I disagree with her assertion elsewhere in the book that "Jimmy Stewart is always and indisputably the best man in the world, unless Cary Grant should happen to show up." I'd take Jimmy any day. (Sad true fact: When I heard on the radio at work that Jimmy Stewart had died, I spent the rest of the day hiding out in the video editing suite in the ad agency where I worked, crying. I'm still not sure why.)

I heard about this book at Trashionista and checked it out of the library, but when it comes out in paperback, I'm buying it. I have a feeling it will become one of my "comfort food" books.

I have a pretty long list of books I need to talk about, but I'd have to consult my list to put together a proper book report. I'll save that for another post.

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