Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

In your typical chick lit book, the heroine is generally in her twenties, single, figuring out who she is and what she wants from life. Oh yeah, and she generally stumbles into a relationship that helps her make sense of all of that. By this criteria, this novel is not chick lit. This is something different but it still retains the fun and hilarious feel that you find in the best chick lit. Becky is the married mother of (almost) four. She's a Mormon housewife with a harmless crush on the actor who plays her favorite big screen characters. So when she is out in Hollywood selling her screenplay, she meets Felix himself and they immediately have a connection.

If you think this connection is going to parlay into a steamy adulterous affair from which Becky comes to learn the importance of fidelity and family, you have it completely wrong. The reality is even better. Becky and Felix are soul mates destined to be best friends for all time. They love each other without "loving" each other. And Hale has brilliantly captured the giddy feeling of meeting someone who just "gets" you in Becky and Felix's relationship. There are bumps in the road, such as when Becky's husband admits he's completely uncomfortable with her relationship with Felix and Becky pulls back out of her undying love for Mike or when Felix's wife faces her own green-eyed monster. But this chronicle of a friendship meant to last forever shows a strong and unbreakable friendship in a charming and entirely entertaining way.

The ups and downs between Becky and Felix are the natural ebb and flow of a real friendship. As disparate as their lives are, they add a touch of cheer to each others' existence and accept each other for who they are. There are moments when the lightness of the book slips as the characters face the scarier and sadder aspects of life. But these plot twists serve to highlight the deeper meaning of friendship, showing enduring love in different forms. And while I admit to a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach during the most tragic moments, it is these moments that took the book out of the realm of light, unbelievable fiction and into a more realistic and thoughtful book. Good escapism, enjoyable writing, delightful characters, and a pitch perfect ending. Fun all the way around (aside from the careful, powerful gut-wrenching in the middle).

Everyone should have one of these friendships--one that can be picked up with no awkwardness even after long absences; one that defines you and brightens your life; one that is simply predicated on kismet. This is a completely delightful book, one you'll want to gulp in one sitting. Then you can go back and enjoy Hale's previous book Austenland, another one I read with glee.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with the book to review.


  1. I was lucky enough to score a copy of this one and can't wait to read it! Great review!

  2. I would have loved to have received a copy of this book. After reading your review, it will be going on my Must Have list!

    Thanks for the review!

  3. I adored this book, too - it turned out to be so much more than I expected.

  4. This sounds so good. I'll have to add it to my list. Thanks for the review.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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