Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." - Benjamin Spock

I declined a lunch time trip to the library yesterday with one of my favorite people in the world to finish Judy Goldstein's and Sebastian Stewart’s 24-Karat Kids. And two nights running I stayed up well beyond what I knew I should have – I KNEW the baby was going to wake up around midnight - to keep reading

Granted, the cover art is deceptively floufy, and the title not very catchy, and I was misled regarding the subject matter by having begun Wendy Wasserstein's tiresomely and excruciatingly detailed book, Elements of Style, on somewhat the same subject - Pediatricians of the Rich and Famous - but *this* book is simple, clean, and a breath of fresh, fun air.

Shelley Green, our heroine - and this book does have that Austen-esque feel to it, that feel-good, light but clever touch and social satire present in a book like, say, Emma - Shelley Green is a fresh-out-of-residency pediatrician hired by the exclusive Upper East Side Madison Pediatrics.

My biggest grievance with many other so-called “chick lit” (or “mommy-lit”) books – Lauren Weisberger’s insanely annoying Devil Wears Prada immediately leaps to mind - is the heroine’ s absolute lack of spine. 24-Karat Kids’ Shelley Green has spine, and then some. She may be from a lower-middle class family she herself refers to as "the Green behemoth" but she has integrity, passion, and the courage of her convictions. She's worked hard to get where she is, and she deserves everything good that happens to her. But it's not just luck - Shelley makes a lot of her own good luck. She stands up to pushy parents, snotty kids, dismissive society mavens, and two-timing boyfriends with grace, style, considerable intellect, and a charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor.

Even the minor characters are intriguing and interesting; my favorites include Candace, the practice’s opera-loving receptionist; Christina Allen, the plastic surgeon who barters Botox for pediatric checkups; and Shelley's dad, a mail carrier who isn't quite sure what to do with or say to his wildly successful daughter. Of course not all the characters are likeable, and not all are more than two-dimensional – just like real life. And some of the most entertaining parts of the book are Shelley's interactions with the rich and/or famous and definitely crazy-making parents and their entitled offspring, Shelley’s actual patients. Although the air here on the Upper East Side is rareified, Shelley seems to make everyone feel at home, including the reader.

This is a book I’ll return to for comfort reading, like Bridget Jones' Diary or the first Shopaholic book. You could assert that the ending is a bit predictable, but while the basic plot may be, the way in which Shelley handles herself and the bullying and snobbery of the rich New Yorkers she has begun to mingle with socially, is not. Shelley Green is someone with whom I would love to be friends, and someone to whom I would not hesitate to entrust my children’s healthcare. Not that I could afford to. And besides, my Gap overalls would never make it past the Dolce&Gabbana-wearing mamas in the waiting room.

24-Karat Kids - Judy Goldstein and Sebastian Stewart


In other news, our houseguests arrive tomorrow. There is still much to be done. But I wanted to go thrift shopping - I need some more little plates, to fuel my addiction; I need some vintage pillowcases, so Gina and I can try our hands at replicating those adorable Libby Dibby skirts; and I need to BUY. MORE. BOOKS.

But two years of having toddlers hanging off the doorknob in an effort to escape have taken their toll, and our front doorknob - a vintage (read: original) mortise-type lock - is kaput. So H took it all apart to take to the locksmith, and I must remain at home and guard the manor. Thank God we just restocked the moat with crocodiles...or is that just me, before I've had enough coffee?


Gina said...

Is there a romance in 24-Karat Kids, or this this a book about a woman and her career?

BabelBabe said...

There is indeed a romance, but it is not the driving force of the book. It's one facet in the multi-faceted life of an interestng and cool woman.

Gina said...

Just checking. Does a book about a woman that doesn't feature a romance exist? Not that I don't like reading about romances, because I certainly do, but now I'm wondering about this.

Caro said...

You do know how to sell a book!

Now I'll have to see if our library has it. Probably they won't, darn it.

Joke said...

But is it funny?


BabelBabe said...

It's very funny in parts. It's a real novel. It is chick lit, I guess, but it's excellent chick lit, like Bridget Jones.

You all know if I think a book is bad, I pull no punches. Really, how good this book was, was a very pleasant surprise.

yt said...

You know, Gina, I just realized that my very favorite guy writer always includes a romance. What is up with that?

I think somebody needs to blog on this.

Jess said...

Good question - books about women without romance - and something that's been at the back of my mind for a while. Kate Atkinson tends to push romance plotlines to the side - in Behind the Scenes at the Museum it was at the very end and not satisfying - for us or the character. Human Croquet was the same way. She's the first thing that comes to mind.

Lynne@Oberon said...

That book sounds great - love a gutsy heroine :)

I'm not looking for romance in my books. I want good human relationships but they don't have to in lurve. I'm starting to really love books written from a child's perspective. It's a interesting way to get a new take on an old subject.

Umm btw... you should use a bit of moisturiser on that skin lady. Coffee or no coffee the reptile skin look is not cool ;)

My float said...

Love the sound of that book! How long are your house guests staying? Do they give you time to still read or will you have to escape to a secret hidey hole to get your fix? Too many books, too little time!

MsCellania said...

I hooted when I read Gina's comment! As a follow-on to her post, it was pretty funny...When the girl Is Back, she's BACK!

And I love reading your reviews. I'm whittling down my pile, and will soon be in the market for new reading material. Your reviews will certainly help!

Suse said...

I giggled at Gina's comment too. And I TRIED to comment on your post yesterday Gina, but blogger was not having any of it. (Just wanted to cheer you on re the switch having been tripped etc).

Now. What is a Libby Dibby skirt please?

lazy cow said...

Bugger that you are trapped at home! I LOVE the sound of this book. Because as you know, I adored Brigit J, and the first Shopaholic book, so I am definitely getting this one. Off to bake Nigella's butter biscuits for the Girl's party.