Mr. Love: A Romantic Comedy
When Jane comes home to find her perfect boyfriend in bed with not one but two other women, it starts off a cascade of events that bounce from fantastic to catastrophic.
Meanwhile, unemployed professor Gordon has finally achieved the literary success he’s been dreaming of. The only problem is that it’s under a pen name, with a piece of chick lit he considers “trash.” When Jane is sent to sign this fabulously new successful author for her literary agency, sparks fly. But will the truth come out?
“Mr. Love” has a lot of interesting aspects, although not all of them jell for me. Most prominently, it’s full of musings on the divide between “literary” and “genre” fiction. Gordon wants to write “literary” fiction and is trying to publish under his own name a lengthy tome examining the loss of his childhood friend. Currently unemployed and sleeping on his sister’s couch, he sits down and pours out a piece of the “chick lit” he despises, also on the same topic, and self-publishes it under an assumed name on Amazon, instantly becoming a bestseller.
Whoa! I always wish that characters who do that would share their secrets with me. As far as I can tell Gordon does zero promoting of his book, which he also must not have spent much time editing and revising, and he uses a cover he threw together on the spur of the moment. Not that I’m judging, but either he’s a staggering genius who also got incredibly lucky, or this is a complete wish-fulfillment.
Probably the latter, since elements of the book certainly have that wish-fulfillment feel. Which is not so much a criticism as it is a remark that this is a book about down on their luck people suddenly having all their dreams come true, often in improbable ways. So it’s a fun, feel-good sort of thing.
On the other hand, it also does examine some pretty interesting questions about literature, such as why topics like love, marriage, divorce, and family are considered “serious literature” when they’re covered by male authors, but are looked down on as “just” romance or chick lit when covered by female authors.
This is an important question. Unfortunately, the book is quick to dismiss “serious literature” as boring, suggesting that maybe the author has never read much of it (“War and Peace” is 1000 pages of battlefield scenes and illicit affairs), while also being the kind of light fare that doesn’t take itself or its readers seriously enough to provide a good rebuttal to the problems that it raises.
So all in all, this will probably appeal mainly to chick lit and romance readers who want to feel vindicated in their choice of reading material and who want to contemplate literary theory–but not too much.