September 15, 2009

Review of "The Smart One and the Pretty One" by Claire LaZebnik

Synopsis:  When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend's son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once "engaged" to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava's prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters' lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is . . .

(From Hachette Book Group)

"The Smart One and the Pretty One" lived up to my expectations as a fun, spunky piece of chick-lit and then surpassed it.  I quickly devoured this book in three days, so involved did I become in both the story and the characters. 

Both sisters, Ava and Lauren, are relatable - - they are witty, they are competitive, they are flawed.  Both could be more annoying than amiable - - Ava, the conservative, buttoned up attorney who has some preconceived notions of relationships and men; Lauren, the flirty, flighty spendthrift who acts before she thinks and doesn't think too often of the future.  I think most of us have aspects of both sisters in our personalities and that is what made them more endearing to me than aggravating.  They have a strong bond, which they realize and identify during the novel, and act like typical sisters.

Typical, too, in a sense, are their romantic relationships during the book.  I could tell exactly where the story was headed for both sisters, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment with the book.   I liked both their male counterparts and I liked the fact that they were as equally flawed as the sisters themselves. 

While "The Smart One and the Pretty One" made Lauren's financial woes and her poor handling of money a source of humor and one of the bases for the eventual contract disputes between her and Ava, it handles the sisters' mother's cancer diagnosis with much more seriousness but still keeps the overall tone of the book as bubbly as a glass of champagne.    As a bit of an aside, a peripheral character who is also being treated for cancer at the same hospital as Nancy (the sisters' mother) is shown to be quite ill and there is certainly nothing lighthearted about it.  In fact, some of the best dialogue (wittiness aside) in the book is between Lauren and the character of Daniel, speaking about dealing with a family member suffering from cancer and trying to make jokes during a depressing, demoralizing time.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Nickerson sisters and lamented the ending of the book.  I can only hope that Ms. LaZebnik found the sisters worthy enough for a sequel.  

"The Smart One and the Pretty One" is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other major booksellers. 

Many thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

And don't forget to enter in my "The Smart One and the Pretty One" giveaway here!


Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review :)

Anonymous said...

Great review. I just got my copy of this and after reading your review I can't wait to read mine. :)

Lisa said...

Glad to hear you liked this one--it's next up on my agenda.

Unknown said...

This sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks. Donna