Friday, September 26, 2014

What we're reading: Another book set in Paris

It was the title (and cover) of this book that drew me in and caused me to read it--but for the life of me I can't figure out why the author titled it thus. Was she just being ironic? The main character, Richard, has just ended an affair (or rather was dumped by his mistress), and is mourning the loss of that relationship, only to go into total panic mode when his wife finds out about the affair after it's over, and has an understandably bad reaction (just when he thought he was in the clear). He then spends the book desperately trying to get her (the wife) back, while simultaneously attempting to jump-start his faltering art career (partially with the hope of impressing her). So really, no one has any fun ever in any part of the story, except in flashback. If some other reader would like to explain it to me? Maybe I missed something...

I liked this debut by Courtney Maum pretty well--it was set in Paris, which is always a plus; one of the characters was an artist, which I like; the characters were complex, individual, and interesting; and the writing was pretty good. But nowhere in the book could I find a reference that made that title make sense! (Can you tell it bugged me?)

Also, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You was marketed as a cross between Where'd You Go Bernadette (reviewed here) and Beautiful Ruins (reviewed here), both of which I have read (and both of which I prefer to Maum's book). I see no elements of either book in this one (unless they were just going for witty and quirky, in which case why not just say "it was witty and quirky"), so I can only think this was some publicist's attempt to piggyback on a couple of pretty successful novels. Why go there? I never understand this desperation move; it will only engender disappointment in fans of those books, if they are looking for something similar! I think it's telling that neither of those books comes up in NoveList's suggestions at the bottom of the catalog record when you look up this book.

If you like books in which there is a lot of internal introspection; if you like books with local color (specifically Paris); if you are interested in art and artists; you will probably enjoy this book. Otherwise? Maybe not.

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