The CEO of a couture bridal company, Janey is forced by her partner/best friend to go on leave when she is photographed eating (gasp!) in public, and told she can’t return to work till she loses thirty pounds. Bored and desperate, she plunges into the world of fad diets and fitness crazes. What results is an “Ab Fab”-like send-up of Manhattan fashion trends, as Janey tries everything from topless yoga to eating clay, until she discovers the dark side to all this conspicuous consumption of so-called healthy, wellthy leaving.
Like “Ab Fab,” a lot of the story is taken up with goofy, over-the-top, up-to-the-minute trendiness that walks a fine line between keen social satire and just plain name-dropping. There are the expensive clothes and overpriced foods you’d expect in a Manhattan women’s fiction novel, but there is a lot less gratuitous wallowing and a lot more gently cutting critique–this is neither fantasy fulfillment nor a brutal takedown of modern moneyed society, but a story of a woman who really does want to enjoy herself and get healthy, but can’t help but see the absurdity of the excesses around her. The situations Janey finds herself are grounded with enough realism that they elicit chuckles of recognition from the reader, not eye-rolls.
Janey’s character, both similar and different from your standard women’s fiction heroine, is a large part of what makes this book work. She’s forty, childless, and in the process of divorce, but she’s not desperate about any of that. The heiress to a major corporation and a successful businesswoman in her own right, Janey is used to power and influence, and instead of throwing it around like a cliche of a woman in charge, or going crazy with her sudden freedom from responsibility, Janey acts (most of the time) like a mature, sensible woman, one who enjoys talking about business with potential boyfriends and helping out younger women trying to make it in the business world. Janey’s most significant relationship, as she comes to discover over the course of the novel, is with her partner Beau, who is charming and talented and utterly self-centered. Their “breakup” adds a level of poignancy to stories of bruffins, $23 cups of juice, and 4am sober raves, and helps underline the softly feminist message of the novel, which is that it’s okay to be forty, female, and even a little bit of the “f” word, but it’s not okay to let other people push you around and string you along. An extremely enjoyable novel with plenty of fun fluff and even a little meat on its bones, too.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.