Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review: Mrs. Perfect

Summary: As a young California girl growing up in a blue collar neighborhood, Taylor Young dreamed of being popular, beautiful, and acquiring a wardrobe to die for. Not to mention marrying a handsome, successful man and living happily ever after in a gorgeous house with three wonderful children. Now, at 36, Taylor has reached the pinnacle of her dreams, but is it all about to unravel? As the new school year approaches, Taylor prepares herself for playing the perfect alpha mom: organizing class activities, fund-raising, and chairing the school auction. But the horror! Her archrival, bohemian mom Marta Zinsser, is named Head Room Mom of Taylor's daughter's fifth grade class. As tensions rise at committee meetings and school activities, the two rivals seem to be destined for a final confrontation. But as Taylor plans her next move, she is floored by a more serious blow at home-her husband has been secretly unemployed for the past six months. With her posh lifestyle crumbling, Taylor struggles to maintain her alpha image-but could Marta, who cares little about appearances, be her only true friend? -- 5 Spot

When I found out that Amy from My Friend Amy and Marcia from The Printed Page were hosting By the Chapter and the book was MRS. PERFECT by Jane Porter, I decided to drop everything and read it right away. I really wanted to participate in her discussion. Plus, I've had the book sitting on my shelves for a few months and was looking for a good excuse to read something fun. I totally enjoyed this novel!

I read and reviewed FLIRTING WITH FORTY a few months ago and knew I liked Ms. Porter's writing. While I enjoyed FLIRTING WITH FORTY, I actually enjoyed MRS. PERFECT even more. I think it's because I could better relate to this story. I am a stay-at-home mother who lives in a community with tons of moms who devote their lives to their kids. I do a little volunteering at my kids' schools, and I've definitely encountered my fair share of "Taylor's." In fact, this book could have been about some of the women that I socialize with.

When I first started this book, I couldn't stand how shallow Taylor was. She drove me crazy with her opinions about her self worth, her appearance and her material possessions. And then as I read more, I realized that a lot of her issues were her insecurity. Of course, I became much more sympathetic towards her character; and there were even a few things about her that I could actually relate to -- as scary as that is. By the end of the book, I really liked Taylor and was hoping that everything would work out for her.

I consider MRS. PERFECT to be grown-up chick lit, but I'm not embarrassed to say that I like reading books like this. I loved how this book pulled me right in, and I was immediately caught up in Taylor's life. I found this book to be so readable -- I carried it with me everywhere including the gym (although I did get some funny looks from a few of the male members.) I admit that I did enjoy reading about all the clothes, travel and interior design (I guess I am somewhat shallow); yet I also liked seeing how Taylor matured and grew to appreciate her true self. While the book was a quick, fun read that caused me to laugh quite a few times, it did touch on some very serious issues that are very pertinent in today's society; and the characters were much deeper and complex than I first thought.

I would definitely recommend MRS. PERFECT for a book club selection, especially if you want a lighter read. And it would be absolutely perfect if your book club knows (or includes) women like Taylor and her friends. I think it would be so entertaining to sit around and discuss this book -- I'd be especially interested in hearing what some of my friends say about the characters. There is a reading group guide available with some terrific discussion questions. Even though the book is a fun read, there are actually quite a few serious issues to talk about such as marital problems, financial concerns, what defines a friend, how society perceives us, etc. If you think you might be interested in this book, you can read an excerpt of the book here.

Thanks to Miriam from Hachette Book Group USA for sending me this book.


bermudaonion said...

I enjoyed Flirting With Forty and this one does sound even better. I've known plenty of "Taylors" in my life.

Beth F said...

Sounds like a fun read.

S. Krishna said...

I definitely enjoyed this one the most of all the Jane Porter novels. Taylor really irritated me, but I loved learning why she was like that.

Melanie said...

I just read Flirting with Forty last night and enjoyed it. I'm going to add Jane Porter to my list of authors that I regularly read.

Amy said...

I'm so glad you're joining in with us, Julie!

I also am really enjoying the book. I thought Taylor's perception of book clubs was really funny as well. :)

(all the depressing books!)