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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


***** Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie. Contemporary romance. Re-read.

This is a hardcover reissue of Jennifer Crusie's first published novel (Sizzle is a never-to-be-reissued novella).

Kate, like so many Crusie heroines to follow her, is on a mission to fix her life. She's successful, but unsatisfied, so between Kate and her best friend Jessie, they come up with a plan to rejuvenate her love life. Kate makes a list of criteria for eligible men, and Jessie urges her to go on vacation at a resort catering to singles--the perfect place to meet men fitting Kate's list.

So she goes, and determinedly starts dating one man after another who seems just fine on paper. And every single date ends in disaster. I'm not going to list the disasters and spoil them for you, but take my word for it--they're hilarious. Kate finds herself spending more and more time relaxing with resort handyman Jake, and proving that when it comes to love, the best laid plans of women... well, in this case, they lead to unexpected results.

Even though this is early Crusie, it's still got that special something. The snappy dialogue is immediately recognizable, as is the seriousness underlying laugh-aloud humor. In this case, a lot of the seriousness comes from communication issues, and a sub-plot between Jake's brother and his girlfriend does double duty both showing Kate that maybe she doesn't really want what she thought she want, and demonstrating the follies of miscommunication.

There's also the serious issue of ambition and goals and one's definition of a full life, and that's echoed in the sub-plot about new friend Penny, who's at the resort for one last fling before getting married.

I've got to say something about the humor, because far too many authors just don't understand the concept. They'll take the idea of the dating disasters and throw them into a story thinking that the more outrageous they are, the funnier. But in Manhunting, and indeed in any Crusie novel, it's not just a silly situation--the silly situation means something. The disasters aren't just random disasters--they connect to the characters in specific ways. It's like watching
RHPS and the difference between throwing slices of toast at and thowing spitballs; between shouting "so does Janet!" and shouting "you're an asshole!" Sorry for the digression--there was a discussion elsewhere, and this seemed to illustrate my point, which was that Jennifer Crusie does humor right.

Anyway, Manhunting is just a joy to read. It's fast-paced and short enough that it can be read in one or two sittings, which you'll want to do anyway--it's hard to put down. The perfect read for a gloomy not-yet-spring day.

And by the way, it's the Cherry Forums BookClub selection for March 1 - 15. Be there.


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Hey Darla, I have this one on my pile! Great review.
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