Romancing the Dark Side of Chick-Lit
I read Louise Wise’s sci-fi romance Eden, last year and really liked her voice. I was intrigued by the title of her more recent publication, The Fall of the Misanthrope. I bitch, therefore I am, especially with its billing as a ‘dark chick-lit!’ Misanthrope is a deeply romantic and insightful tale, which deals with difficult issues and the healing power of love. It is also very humorous and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion!
In the novel,Valerie Anthrope (Miss Anthrope – I loved the pun) is a young woman who runs a financial brokerage. Valerie is not only serious minded and hard working but, she can also be a bit of a bitch. She lives alone and keeps herself to herself, concluding that it is best not to care for anyone. There nevertheless resides within her a deep sadness and vulnerability.
In steps Ellen Semple, a missionary worker returned from abroad, who, in true ‘fairy godmother’ form resolves to make Valerie her next ‘project. Ellen senses something is not quite right with Valerie and does her best to bring light into her darkness. She secures part-time employment in Valerie’s small office. Then, believing that Valerie’s outlook is due to financial difficulties, she persuades her nephew Lex Kendal, a successful businessman, to put a large contract her way. When she sees that Lex is intrigued by Valerie, she warns him off her, believing that Valerie is too fragile to handle Lex’s ‘love’em and leave ‘em philosophy.’ Yet Lex does not take no for an answer, and Valerie falls for him. When she discovers that he is Ellen’s nephew, a fact that they deliberately hid from her, she feels deceived, let down and deeply wounded. To protect herself from future hurt she dumps Lex, almost as soon as their affair has begun.
Yet it is too late, Valerie’s armour has begun to crack and she starts to unravel and descend into depression, the dark dreams she has been having since childhood intensifying. It is from this moment that the novel, much of which has been light hearted, becomes darker, yet humour still abounds. I am glad to say that the tale did reach a satisfying conclusion. The prologue and the epilogue also contain an unexpected twist and make the reader question both fate and free will.
Valerie is complex, early childhood events having shaped her into the woman she is. Indeed, she is ‘stuck’ in the past and needs to let go. The hard face she presents is very much a façade to protect herself from future hurt and loss. The circumstances surrounding Lex’s and Ellen’s deceit unlock her emotions, giving her a chance to face them and heal herself.
Lex, a divorced single parent is a loveable rogue. He is attracted to Valerie and decides to make her one of his many conquests. He has never really grown up. However, Lex becomes smitten with Valerie, who is so unlike his usual women and her prickly nature is a challenge he wants to win. At first he is not thinking long term, but he soon realises how vulnerable she is and wants to help. He finds that he is very much in love with her. I found their developing relationship believable and touching.
The character of Ellen is pivotal. It is Ellen who decides to turn Valerie’s life around. She starts by making small changes in the office, trying to draw Valerie out in conversations and encouraging her to socialise. Oh, and she also introduces her to Lex! The secondary characters of Tim and Paul, Valerie’s employees are also supportive of her. Tim in particular is also very protective, knowing of her history.
I feel that anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression due to past trauma, or is close to someone who has, will find that this book deals sensitively with the subject. It also illustrates the redeeming power of love. Despite the serious subject matter, Misanthrope is a very funny love story, the humour ranging from light to dark. The author’s descriptions of how Ellen bursts into Valerie’s ‘grey’ world and adds shades of colour to it are hilarious, as is the banter between Valerie and Lex and her reaction to his tried and tested seduction techniques.
Louise Wise is a British author and, like Eden, the novel has a British feel. I again found her voice fresh and original and I was immediately intrigued by the characters and quickly drawn into the plot – it would make an excellent screenplay with the right cast. I recommend this book to all romance lovers, not just those who enjoy contemporary romance or chick-lit.
Reblogged this on areadersreviewblog and commented:
Louise Wise’s book. The Fall of the Misanthrope is currently available FREE on Amazon for a very short time. Billed as dark chick-lit, it is a modern day Cinderella like story, which also contains a great deal of humour. I reviewed the novel a while ago now when we didn’t have quite so many followers, so I’ve reblogged it in case you would like to check it out. The book is a great read and is in the FINAL of the eFestival of Words. The Amazon UK link is:
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Misanthrope-Bitch-therefore-ebook/dp/B008ATGF4I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373372019&sr=1-2
Tina, thanks so much for reblogging this post. This book sounds absolutely right up my street, and I’ve just downloaded it. Also, I’m in a challenge on Goodreads to read fairytale retellings. This sounds perfect to add to my list! I’ll post a link to your review there. Thanks!
Thanks, Helena. For some strange reason your comment was marked as spam and so I don’t think Tina has seen it. Don’t worry -I have un-spammed you! You’ll have to let us know what you think of Louise’s book. I haven’t read it myself but Tina’s reviews always make me want to read the books she does!
Hi Helena. I’m glad that you liked the reblog and many thanks for posting the link – we have had some visitors already. I have also reviewed another book by Louise on the blog, called Eden, which is a sci-fi romance with a beauty and the beast theme. It was one of my favourite books of 2012 (reviewed back in November) and you may want to check it out too. http://areadersreviewblog.com/2012/11/08/eden-by-louise-wise/ If the link does not work it can be found under our sci-fi menu. I’ve also read a book by Eloisa James entitled When Beauty Tamed the Beast and that was an entertaining read too. The author has a series based on retellings of fairytales, which I hope to dip into again. 🙂
That is the best book title ever – hilarious! It also sounds right up my alley so I’m off to Goodreads to add to my TBR… ciao! Thanks Tina 🙂
Louise Wise is a very versatile author. She’s also written an absolutely fab book entitled Eden, which describes how a woman is left stranded on a distant and hostile planet with a not so friendly alien and has to rely on him to survive It’s a romance a bit along the lines of beauty and the beast and has some great characters.I reviewed it very early on on the blog and am looking forward to a sequel planned later this year. 🙂
ooooh!!! Thanks for the rec. Will check this one out too!