Monday, December 31, 2012

The Charm Bracelet (by Melissa Hill)

My penultimate book of the year was this throwaway romantic comedy fluff. As readable as it is, it is sadly not very good fluff.

It's about a (very likeable) single mom named Holly who finds a charm bracelet in the vintage store she manages and is trying to get it back to its owner. In the meantime, it's about a guy named Greg who quits his Wall Street job to try and make it as a photographer and follow his dreams, and his girlfriend is clearly money-obsessed and unhappy about his career change. It's obvious where this is going from the get-go (but then, romantic comedies so often are). However, here were some of my issues.

1. Characters don't use contractions in dialogue half the time. They all talk like Data from Star Trek: TNG.  This is incredibly distracting.

2. Melissa Hill must be British, because even though her novel is set in New York and all her characters are from New York, they say things like "throw a spanner in the works" and "this thing is different to that other thing."

3. Speaking of New York, the New York Times is a big plot point, but all the characters who work there call it the "NYT" (in spoken dialogue) instead of the "Times." I doubt it.   (Also, she doesn't know how the crossword works, as the clues aren't worded correctly. As someone who does the crossword every week, this annoyed me.)

4. Greg isn't very sympathetic. He doesn't do any work on his "photography career" before quitting his job, but somehow gets handed assignments by the "NYT" almost immediately. I sympathized with his bitch girlfriend, and agreed with her that he should have mentioned that she'd be paying the mortgage for a while before he quit his job.

5. The ending is a totally ridiculous cheat. I will spoiler it: Greg's mom, who throughout the book thanks to flashbacks we believe has died of cancer, turns out at the very end to somehow be miraculously alive and the "treatment is working" so it's implied that she's not going to die after all. Earlier in the book she was in hospice care! In hospice! Plus, all these major things are happening and Greg sees his father to discuss his proposal to Bitch Girlfriend, and his mother's jewelry, and in every single conversation they discuss Greg's mother as if she's dead and they can't possibly discuss any of this with her.  In hindsight, this makes absolutely no sense.

Anyway, my list of issues notwithstanding, this book isn't terrible. Holly is likeable and the premise is cute (even if there are a ton of red herrings that go nowhere. Apart from the contractions and the Britishisms, the writing is totally fine. I just wouldn't actually recommend it.


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