If clothes maketh the man then they maketh the book character too

Maybe This Time

by Jennifer Crusie

a shallow review


Jennifer Crusie’s latest book Maybe This Time edges into the paranormal activities of ghosts (thank you Jennifer for not bringing vampires into the equation) whilst rekindling a romance that had soured many years earlier. The book is set in 1992 which I found a bit perturbing. It was not long ago enough to be classed as a historical romance but it certainly is not a contemporary romance. It did have a retro feel but must we have another sub sub genre? It did make me wonder if it was the author’s way of not wanting to deal with modern technology such as SMS and the internet for her book (which is fine).

However, the clothes that Andie, the female protagonist, wears through most of this book created a phenomenal mind block for me. On the first page she is wearing an ill-fitting tailored jacket. Why? What would possess any intelligent woman, and Andie IS intelligent, to dress like a bag lady when facing a hot former beau/husband? I didn’t get it, though I know I should get it as her rebellion against the “hero’s” conservatism. Couldn’t she just flip the proverbial bird to the establishment by dyeing her hair pink?

Further on in the book she is described as wearing peasant skirts and tank tops. I cannot shake from my mind a cross between Stevie Nicks and Patrick Swayze. This is not a good thing.

I found it unbelievable that ex-hubby North who is a conservative, button down suit kinda Beta hero could stand the sparkly, sequin Tree of Life woman that was being described. So I improvised. Where the book describes her misshapen jacket, I replaced it with a shapely jacket (no woman would choose to look like shit when they are seeing an ex for the first time in a decade). When her peasant skirt is being described I change it in my mind to a flowing, long skirt.

 

I realise that this is a stupid thing to be bothered about. Other reviewers have found Andie’s lack of care for her young male charge, Carter & and her ignorance as to how men’s needs, both Carter and North, as an oversight in the writing. I don’t agree.  I just thought she was an unfeeling towards male characters. Unlikeable character trait – yes. Writing fault – No.

But when Andie finally dons a t-shirt and jeans just before she does the deed with North I let out a breath of relief.

Unfortunately, despite her reverting to wearing jeans I remain unconvinced that maybe this time the loving couple make it. Because after all that fab sex poor North still has to look at a woman channelling the Nickster.

The Nickster

P.S. Despite what sounds like an anti-Maybe This Time diatribe, apart from the disturbing fashion sense, this book works for me. The creepy ghosts, the faulty relationships and the lack of maturity in the female protagonists which is angering and frustrating all make for a good read. That it takes her 10 years to have a decent relationship and that it takes 2 neglected children for her to finally understand that a person needs to stick around even when they are not the centre of the universe is a revelation. Crusie rocks.

P. P.S I also get that the book being retro you probably think that peasant skirts were hip in the early 90s. But they weren’t. Even then they were ugly.

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