life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Review: Carpenters Lady the New Edition

Carpenters Lady the New /E -Li
Carpenters Lady the New Edition by Barbara Delinsky

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Yeah, no.

This book is a re-issue of an edition that was first published in the early 1990s, but originally the story itself was written and published in 1983. It seems rather sad to look back through the window of time and wonder, is this what passed for acceptable romance twenty to thirty years ago? Really? If so, no wonder this genre has the reputation it does. This book is really, really horrible. I couldn't finish it - and that's saying something. I feel compelled to warn readers about certain issues that may make it as disturbing for them as it was for me.

The premise is that of a recently divorced woman who just passed her 30th birthday and is still coping with the changes and disappointments of losing her husband to a dalliance he felt compelled to explore with a mutual co-worker (both the heroine - and I use that term loosely - and her ex-husband work in the same office as scriptwriters for a daytime soap opera). As premises go, it's a bit awkward but could work given some creative effort. The hero seems guarded and interesting at first - tall, sculpted, brooding, a carpenter who renovates homes. They meet, she hires him, and at first he hesitates, because he's attracted to her and he's not up for a relationship just now - but then he gives in (we're really not sure why), and makes her agree on a condition I found a bit troubling but managed to get over for the sake of the story: that he's not going to control his urges to consummate his attraction if he takes the job.

I have a special affinity for men who work with their hands. Carpenters are top of the list for me, in fact. It's why I picked up the book in the first place - a carpenter and a writer? I'm so there.

I also like a man who knows what he wants, and tells you up front. Honesty is usually a very good trait. So I was intrigued at first, and dove in.

As the story progresses, it soon becomes obvious that what could be interesting tension between the two was just a set-up. The trite handling of circumstances and obvious plot twists designed to get these two to the brink of sexual encounters in the quickest, most ridiculously cheesy fashion possible started to make my eyes bleed. The guy is a total oaf - and not in a cute, endearing way. He's a misogynistic cad who practically rapes the woman while she's struggling to fight off his grabby hands and forced kisses while simultaneously trying to control her own rising passions brought on solely by his physical "charms."

Puh-leeze. Okay, so this may be dated - but really? Did we totally buy that crap in the eighties and nineties? I'm looking at much more recent reviews and wondering how in the world grown women can actually find this palatable - much less acceptable and even "delightful" as one reviewer wrote? Seriously? Um, no.

The female protagonist is a dolt and an airhead. Brief glimpses of what could possibly be evidence that she's not are quickly doused whenever the guy walks in the room. I wish she were smarter. I wish she'd fire his ass, and file a police report. But she doesn't.

By the third time the two of them almost get together my stomach couldn't take any more. Put this one back on the shelf and buy a book on how to fight off selfish, chauvinistic jerks or possible rapists instead, because if this stuff titillates you, you're going to want to know what to do if it happens in real life. If you're one of those women who confuses the lack of mutual respect coupled with a severe lack of self-control for honest attraction, then a class in self-defense would probably save your life one day.

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