Monday, November 15, 2010

Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie *****

Strange BedpersonsStrange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book I'd already read and enjoyed that I had to hear on audio! It's like comfort food, macaroni & cheese - you know you'll enjoy it and feel good at the end. Narrator Madison Vaughn brings a nice, cynical tone to the characters that fits them to a t. It's an "opposites attract" sort of theme, along the lines of Dharma and Greg - she was raised in a commune and works at nonprofits, he's a Yale-educated lawyer trying to make partner. It's filled with Crusie's trademark witty banter, and Vaughn made me laugh out loud with Nick's secretary Christine's dialogue. There's some slight intrigue, a tiny mystery, but nobody dies - just some fun characterizations and a zany story. Yes! a reason to keep reading.

Below is my original review of the print book, a couple of years back.


I finished this late last night - and felt a pretty good 5-star glow after it was over. Of course, now in the light of day, it seems a little different, so I'm thinking it was more like a 4.5...

The basic plot is a sort of Dharma and Greg relationship except that in this case Tess isn't nearly as open-minded and happy as Dharma. I find Nick to be a lot like Greg though - besotted (a besotted hero?) with Tess, and sticking to his own principals while being really more open-minded than Tess about their differences.

She was raised on a commune by hippie parents. She continues their traditions by working as a teacher at a nonprofit foundation that runs a tutoring program for disadvantaged children, and also by protesting the ills of the world, and in general trying to fix everyone and everything. Living according to her principals, she shops at thrift stores, lives in a low-income area and in general you get the idea she's trying to minimize her footprint on the world.

Nick was raised in a middle-class, blue-collar family, but attended an Ivy League law school and is now a Republican lawyer hoping to make partner in a small family law firm, of which he is not family. He's ambitious but actually not in a cut-throat way. I think is says volumes about his scruples that he refused to make love with her in a public parking lot because it's against the law! OK, so it also shows him to be a little straight-laced and maybe even stuffy - but he is a lawyer, after all, so not breaking the law seems like a good idea - especially when he points out his bedroom was less than 10 minutes away. And it speaks volumes for her that, after he refused the car and suggested the bedroom, she refused him altogether. She's not really as open-minded and liberal as she thinks she is.

The verbal sparring in the book was pretty funny - I laughed out loud several times during the short read (about 250 pp) at the antics. Nick has a dilemma - a famous author the firm is wooing has specifically asked the lawyers to attend a weekend house party with spouses, and neither Nick nor his buddy Park are married. He goes to Tess - even though now they are no longer dating - and asks her to do this for him as a favor, and to get Park a date too. Tess is truly conflicted - her body is trying to override her mind about Nick, and she is really attracted to him. She keeps trying to tell herself their relationship cannot work because they are so diametrically opposed on so many issues, but she likes him as a friend so she obliges and goes, along with her best friend Gina.

Tess finds herself giving in to Nick on several issues - one of them is her trying to run everyone's lives. After the weekend, Park and Gina start a relationship, but Park is too lily-livered to stand up to his father and continues to show up at family affairs with a different woman, one his parents hope he'll marry. After he leaves Corinne, he heads to Gina - but he doesn't let either woman know. Tess would normally have told Gina, but for Nick she butts out - an action that later comes back to bite her.

Tess has a hard time realizing what is truly in her core values that she must do for herself, and what are the issues she can bend or compromise on where Nick and others are concerned. Nick is more sure of himself, although he does lean on his Superwoman secretary Christine for help - and she is the true hero in the book, in my eyes!! She is the one who finally makes the difference for the two of them.

It was a fun story and a great ending. If you are looking for short, hot, funny - this is it. 5 stars.

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