Miss Match, Rematch, Match Point

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miss Match, Rematch, and Match Point, by Erynn Mangum

Well, this post is a little embarrassing. But what good is the internet, if you can't make embarrassing admissions about yourself to total strangers? So here it goes: I read some chick lit. Okay, not just any chick lit... Christian chick lit. A combination of two genres not known for literary excellence. And... (sigh)... I enjoyed it.

Here's some background: I've just been feeling terrible lately. I'm so grateful to be pregnant but I've been experiencing morning sickness while my honey has been away for weeks on business trips. I've been trying to finish Dorothy Sayer's essays but lately I'm just not up to it. My friend loaned me a trilogy by Erynn Mangum which couldn't have been more timely. I read them while laying on the couch when my toddler was napping, drinking ginger tea and trying to ignore the piles of laundry and dust bunnies floating across the floor.

It was a little like watching a Christian version of the TV show "Friends," which I hope doesn't sound like an insult, because it's not. Nobody lives like that, but I was absorbed in that world for as long as it lasted. The main character, Laurie, is a 23- year old single Christian who can't stop playing matchmaker and was loosely based on Jane Austen's "Emma." I thought the author would parallel the plot of "Emma" too, but she respected her characters enough to let them have their own stories. There was no heavy-handed evangelism or salvation-through-romantic fulfillment which often pollutes Christian fiction. The characters were all saved and acted as such, and it was a pleasant, although sanitized, world. This isn't Flannery O'Connor, and I was so glad.

Still, if you're picky with your books, don't read this series. Most of the characters' dialogue had the same tone. The author used frequent Jane Austen quotes, Princess Bride references, Cheesecake Factory shout-outs, and lots of chocoholic activity in what seemed like an effort to help the reader identify with the characters more. They were unnecessary--I related to Laurie's inner life and a young single woman far more than all the Jane Austen love (of which there is plenty!). Laurie is happily single and loves her life, but begins to be blindsided by jealousy of all the newlyweds and engaged couples around her. Her nightly devotions speak to what's going on in her life, and are alternately surprising, thought-provoking, encouraging, etc. I think every Christian knows what it's like to have God quietly speaking to you in the midst of confusion, and the author's honesty gave the books authenticity.

It will be interesting to see how this author matures as a writer. According to Anne Lamott in "Bird by Bird," good writing is about telling the truth. , and I hope that Erynn Mangum will improve her craft so she can communicate more clearly in the future. I'll read it.


Nathan Garrett said...

Sometimes, you've just got to read some fluffy books. These aren't ones that I'd chose to read, but they do sound like fun pieces of that genre....

Sandy said...

Oops, I left my comment on the wrong post. It belonged here. Sorry. Perhaps I was completely overtaken with the romance and lost my head? Sigh.

Rachel said...

Oh, okay. That makes more sense!
Romance will do that to a girl, won't it? :c)