Thursday, May 15, 2008

Review: Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

At first I wasn't sure how I wanted to rate Good in Bed. Cannie is a completely different kind of heroine- a plus-sized body is not usually what we get in the protagonist of a piece of chick lit. Usually I'm quite skeptical of the women in fiction who seem perfect- often they've got an ugly imperfection lurking beneath the surface. But with Cannie, its all out there: from her insecurities about her body to her insecurities about boyfriends and her career at a newspaper in Philadelphia, Cannie's feelings are typical of the way that many women in their 20s feel. Bruce seems perfect at first: he's Jewish, educated, and he's taller than Cannie is. After three years of dating, they "go on a break," which means different things for the two. Bruce writes an article which appears in a chick magazine: "Good in Bed," about plus-sized women- and Cannie in particular. Furious at first, Cannie confronts Bruce about the article, to which he really has no answer, except, "I thought we had broken up." One wonders why Bruce wrote the article (even using Cannie's first initial to talk about her!)- revenge, perhaps?

Personality-wise, Cannie's mother is similar to Mrs. Jones in Bridget Jones's Diary. Although different to be sure (divorced, lesbian, Jewish), Cannie's mother has the same kind of sparking personality that Mrs. Jones has. We also get to meet Cannie's mother's girlfriend, the chain-smoking Tanya who is at least twenty years younger than her girlfriend and has a past history of parents being abusive towards her, as well as a psychotic ex-girlfriend. Tanya to me didn't seem like a bad person, only one who is haunted by the mistakes she made in life, and I don't think that Cannie or her bother or sister ever gave her a proper chance.

Cannie's personal background is recounted to the reader in painstaking detail, showing how much her father leaving the family has impacted them all. However, I found fault with Weiner's depiction of the Philadelphia suburbs: most people are not poor on the Main Line- in fact, in most cases, rather the opposite. In Good in Bed, Weiner compares the area to "the Appalachia" or "the Third World." Tsk, tsk, to Ms. Weiner for not doing her research.

In New York to interview a rising female actor, Maxi Ryder, the petite actress and Cannie become friends almost instantly. In a night of drunkenness in which the ladies pour out their life stories to one another, Maxi tells Cannie to call Bruce- at which point she finds out that he's dating another woman. Reading about his relationship with this new woman, called "E," is painful for Cannie to swallow. On that same night, Cannie hands Maxie a screenplay that she had been working on for weeks, not ever expecting to get it back again. But many things in this book are surprising.

What saddened me about this book (and I hope I'm not giving too much away here) was the way in which Bruce acted towards Cannie's child- which was certainly his as well. That is to say, he never acknowledged either. However, Cannie has her friends and family to support her, and an interesting romantic prospect on the horizons.

Cannie's change occurs in dramatic stages, all of which will affect her future. But the changes that occur are good for her and, inevitably, for the people around her as well. Although as a first novel this book has some minor imperfections, this is well-written and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good book to curl up in bed with.
Also reviewed by: Trashionista

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