Wednesday, May 13, 2009
LAURA RIDER'S MASTERPIECE by Jane Hamilton
I saw an ad for this book in the New York Times Book Review. The cover immediately caught my eye and I was surprised to see that a book with this kind of cover would be written by Jane Hamilton of BOOK OF RUTH fame. The premise sounded interesting. Laura Rider, co-owner of a landscaping business, decides to write a romance novel and uses her husband Charlie and radio talent Jenna as models for her characters. The book was touted to be a "sex comedy" with Hamilton's "winning humor" on display. I did not find this book humorous in the least. Hamilton spend the first half of the book setting up Rider as a sympathetic character experimenting with a new hobby at an important stage in her life. The book then takes an unexpected turn as Rider is mocked and vilified and turned into a joke. The characters didn't come off as funny, they came off as sad. They are people trying desperately to make connections and they are turned into a joke while doing so. Hamilton makes a mockery of her characters and her subject matter. Charlie ended up being the only sympathetic character and even he was painted as a buffoon. I'm sure Hamilton thought herself very clever in having Rider create her own romantic experiment in throwing two unlikely lovers together but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.
BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended. If you really want a sex comedy, skip this one. You won't find anything worthwhile here.