Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review: Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger

Having read so many bad reviews, I was surprised by Chasing Harry Winston. It’s actually much better than I expected it to be.

After being dumped by her boyfriend of five years, baby-obsessed Emmy (a restaurateur) decides that she’ll sleep with as many random men as possible. Tired of sleeping with many men in succession, ultra-glamorous, Brazilian Adriana decides to enter into a monogamous relationship and possibly get engaged. Leigh, a book editor, is tired of her life, despite a job she loves and a (seemingly) perfect boyfriend. One evening over dinner, two of the three decide to change their lives dramatically within the space of a year.

In Chasing Harry Winston, Weisberger dumps the format she adopted for her first two novels. In some ways, this is good, and gives Weisberger the chance to branch out a bit. This is no outsider-looking-in tale told from a whiney first-person perspective. There’s no hellish boss, no glamorous fashion or PR industry. The characters in this novel are surprisingly more unique than those in Weisberger’s other two books; with the exception of the perfect boyfriend, I definitely found myself relating to Leigh a little bit. However, the author doesn’t seem to be able to create anything new—it seems like this plot has been seen before, most notably in Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City.

The characters, disturbingly, define themselves primarily by their relationships with men; their careers and the other parts of their personal lives repeatedly take backseats to boyfriends and fiancées. Adriana, despite her “tricks” for getting men to chase her, is really the one doing the chasing. It was tough, too, for me to believe the Leigh-Russell relationship. On the other hand, the predicament Leigh finds herself in is very understandable: you find yourself dating the “right” guy, so you feel bad about breaking up with him because you’re scared. It’s a dilemma I think many women can identify with.

For having reached the age of thirty, these women are very immature and shallow, and overly concerned with having the stress-and-anxiety-free, “perfect” lives that no New York woman I know has. It was also difficult for me to see why these three are friends—they’re all so different, but Weisberger never explains to her readers why they were drawn to each other in the first place.

Somewhere in the plot, out of place, is a trip to the Caribbean, during which the girls find themselves in a dicey Curacao airport drinking suspect alcohol bought from a card table, and popping pills. It’s pretty much the only funny part of the book. I get the feeling that this is something that really happened to Weisberger or someone she knows, and she felt she just had to put it in. But the scene just didn’t belong in this novel.

Although not as funny, clever, or well-written as The Devil Wears Prada, there was much more emotional depth in Chasing Harry Winston than in Everyone Worth Knowing. Keep in mind, though, that Weisberger is pretty much a one-note author.

Also reviewed by: S. Krishna's Books

2 comments:

Darcie said...

Thanks for the great review I have been wondering how this book is.

I have tagged you for a read-a-thon meme. :) You can find it at http://readingderby.blogspot.com/2008/06/read-thon-meme.html

I can't wait to see your responses!

Tresstine said...

I am truly surprised that you found any "emotional depth" in this book. The prescribed, shallow lives of these three New York City women could have been lifted from any Carrie Bradshaw column.

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