Author: Libby Schmais
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: My Personal Library (purchased from used bookshop)
This modern-day Sense & Sensibility is a witty story about two sisters: Liza, a would-be poet who spends miserable days as a legal secretary; and Bette, a graduate student writing her dissertation on Toast in the English Novel. Bette has taken to eating only what the characters she is writing about would eat: boiled eggs on toast, mincemeat, nice cups of tea…Liza’s bit concerned. She’s also worried about the statues of her relationship with her actor boyfriend, Gregor. They’re not living together, and that’s a problem.
Then there’s the issue of Liza’s career, or the lack thereof. Can dog-walking be considered a vocation? Liza’s beginning to think so. Mercifully, Bette is merely a local phone call away.
Throughout this hilarious novel, the sisters deal with unemployment, infidelity, interfering parent, Hollywood, lemmings, a pregnancy, and a wedding. The Perfect Elizabeth is as indulgent and cathartic as a pint of Haagen-Dazs. (from the back of the book)
The weekend before last, I went book shopping and found The Perfect Elizabeth: A Tale of Two Sisters by Libby Schmais which claimed to be a modern retelling of Sense & Sensibility. Being a true Jane addict I knew that I had to purchase this book to feed my addiction. Let me say that I was thoroughly and utterly disappointed. If I would have paid more than $1.99 for this book I would have been highly perturbed as it was one of the worst books that I ever read and the only comparison that it had to S&S was that the novel did indeed have two sisters in it.
Believe you me, I searched this book from the front cover to the back for any shred of a resemblance to S&S and found absolutely nothing. I believe that there was only one mention of Jane throughout the book. Truth be told, the novel should have been marketed to Barbara Pym fans as the book is exploding with mentions of her and her novels.
As the book is called The Perfect Elizabeth, I assumed that the book would feature both Liza’s and Bette’s pov, as the two names are derivatives of Elizabeth. However, I was wrong; the book was told entirely from Liza’s pov and Bette was rarely even mentioned. Not only did I find Liza boring, I found her to be whiny and annoying to the point I wanted to chuck the book in the bin and her obsession with cheese was downright ridiculous.
If ever a book had ADD, it was this one as the writing rambled from one thing to another then another with no true point.
The only good thing about this book is that it is only 220 odd pages, but I will never get back those few hours that I spent reading it.
U.S.A. Today reviewed the book as:
“The Perfect Elizabeth is the kind of book women will read, then tuck into the shoulder bag of their closest friend or officemate.”
I am seriously wondering if that was only meant for a way to rid yourself of book rather than a recommendation.
Best Wishes & Happy Reading,