Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review -- The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel The Actor and the Housewife: A Novel by Shannon Hale

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I must first preface this “review” with the following disclaimers:

I’m not a fan of chick lit (is this book considered chick lit? – Mormon lit maybe?); I generally find it trite and friends get mad at me for taking it too seriously and not accepting it for “what it is!”

I’m not a reader of YA fiction; YA fiction has become significantly more mainstream lately, and many friends “cross-over” between YA fiction and adult fiction. With the exception of Harry Potter, I’m an adult fiction reader.

Because of the above, I’m not familiar at all with Shannon Hale’s YA novels. I know they are widely respected and liked. I know a lot of my friends have read The Princess Academy and her Bayern series and loved them. Because of their respect for her books, I decided to read both of Hale’s adult fiction books, Austenland, and her newest, The Actor and The Housewife. I planned on Austenland first, because I’m following an “Austen Challenge” on a book blog I follow, but, because The Actor and The Housewife is a new book, and only a 14 day check out – I had to fast track it to the front of my Hale reads.

Without holding back – The Actor and The Housewife was probably the most ridiculous book I’ve ever read. The premise: suburban, LDS, SAHM, sells screenplay to Hollywood – where by she meets top Hollywood, heart-throb, English actor (a Colin Firth/Hugh Grant/Kenneth Branagh/Ralph Fiennes kinda character) and they instantly become best friends. In the mean time, they both must maintain marriages, and she a family, while they carry on their best-friendness.

Now, Shannon Hale in her dedicatory page of Austenland, dedicates her book as such: “For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.” So, maybe this novel was an attempt to live out her fantasy of being best friends with Colin Firth. Or after she wrote it thought, “What a great premise for a novel – a normal, everyday Mom, being best friends with a hottie actor! Eureka!”

Somehow her quest to live out her fantasy or make this idea into a novel fails miserably. I never once believed that these two could possibly be friends. Or that men and women can maintain friendships without irreparably harming their marriages. Or that her husband, or ward, or kids, would tolerate such a relationship. Every scenario featuring both of these two characters is so far fetched it was laughable. Here is one: hottie Felix, having a lay-over in SLC goes to a screenplay workshop given by Becky. First off, what high paid actor flies commercial with lay overs? That would be ZERO! Here is another one: on another stay in suburban UT, Felix accompanies Becky to a ward pot luck. Seriously, ward pot lucks are painful enough to attend as members, can you imagine Brad Pitt going to one? And it was painful to read about too. I don’t think I will ever go to a ward pot luck again. There are other equally outlandish scenes, ones that I would find myself hollering at my husband to come listen to, “Honey, you got to listen to this!” He cringed most of the time and would say, “why are you reading this?”

Admittedly, the dialog between these two characters was witty and comical. If it had been a romantic comedy between two single adults, I think she could have managed a fun, likeable, entertaining book. And the last third of the book (for reasons I can’t explain, because it would spoil the ending – if you actually read it to the end) was FAR more successful than the beginning.

But all in all, The Actor and The Housewife was a stay-at-home, Mormon mommy, mess.

View all my reviews >>


joy_g said...

i just wanted to mention, for your reading pleasure, that i've found shannon hale's YA books to be MUCH MUCH better than her adult books. goose girl and princess academy are my favorites.
once you've recovered from this utter and desolate failure, you might consider trying those. did i mention how much better they are?

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I promise to give her another chance!!

Liz said...

I adore The Goose Girl and Book of a Thousand Days so I have to admit, when it arrives at the library hold counter for me, I will still read it, but I get frustrated with over the top books like this so I may be doing a lot of skimming!

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Liz -- let me know what you think!

MindySue said...

I'm glad you liked the review...I was worried that I was just being too picky but I kept rolling my eyes throughout. Trust me, her Goose Girl Series is way better. W.A.Y. Austenland didn't do much for me either.

Would you ever consider jumping your own ship and guest reviewing for us sometime?

Reading For Sanity

MindySue said...

would you consider "guesting" your recent book club suggestions list and posting it with a link to your blog

Kim said...

You're right. The premise is ridiculous but I still thought it was pretty fun. I am a little embarrassed about how much I liked it but there's no accounting for taste.