Helen Fairchild, is leading a privileged Pasadena existence: married to a pillar of the community; raising a water polo- playing son destined for the most select high school; volunteering her time on the most fashionable committees. It only bothers Helen a tiny bit the she has never quite fit in with the proper Pasadena crowd or finished that graduate degree in Classics or had that second baby. The rigid rules of society in Pasadena appeal to Helen, the daughter of Oregon "fiber artists", even if she'll never be on the inside. And then along comes a Rose Parade float, killing her philandering husband and leaving Helen broke, out of her "forever" house, and scrambling to salvage her once-rarefied existence. Enter Dr. Patrick O'Neill, noted archaeologist, excavator of Troy, and wearer of adorable nubby sweaters. A job as Dr. O'Neill's research assistant is the lifeline Helen needs to re-invent herself professionally, personally, and romantically. Helen's world widens to include a Hollywood star, a local gossip columnist, an old college nemesis, a high-powered Neutron Mom, an unforgiving admissions director, the best Armenian real estate agent in the biz, and, of course, the intriguing Patrick O'Neill. While uncovering secrets about Ancient Troy alongside her archaeologist, Helen discovers something much more: a new sense of self and a new love.
I do enjoy chic lit, but sometimes, the stories and writing styles bleed together because they can be so similar. What I really enjoyed about Helen of Pasadena was the smart and snappy writing set it apart from the rest of the genre. Now, thankfully I have not had to deal with pretentious "old money" people, but it seemed to me that the author really grounded her characters in the reality of that world. As the reader watches Helen attempt to navigate such a unnecessarily complex society, you really feel for her and care about what happens to her, especially in regard to her hunk of a boss. While the characters were strong and interesting, my very favorite part was, as I mentioned before, the writing. I love spot on social commentary which isn't so heavy handed with a "know-it-all" vibe. Many of the author's observations about Pasadena can easily be transferred to just about any sub culture, which makes it relatable and hilarious for every reader. Her insights are always chuckle worthy, and many times, out right laugh-inducing. I absolutely loved this book, and to put a cherry on top, there is a lot of Greek classics content (but in very relevant context), which always makes me happy :) If you haven't really ever been able to get into the chic lit, this is a great book to get you interested in the genre. It is smart, hilarious and a definite page turner. 2, Borders with a Coupon
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***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided as part of a Pump Up Your Book! Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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