|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Chick Lit
Start Date: Summer 2008
Finished Date: Summer 2008
Where Found: Public library
Why Read: Loved the movie and wanted to try Jennifer Weiner’s novel to see if I would like the author.
Summary: Two sisters, one a successful lawyer with self-esteem issues, the other jobless & unable to read who hides this with her beauty, struggle to keep a relationship despite their bond since their mother’s death until a career change and tracking down their long-lost grandmother begins to mend ties.
Jennifer Weiner is not your typical “chick lit” author. She writes women characters with moxie, brains, heart, and often with a little meat on their bones. In Her Shoes is an enjoyable, fresh read with characters that ring true, but oftentimes experience or break through less believable situations.
Rose Feller is successful and brainy, finding love where she left it, yet somehow wants (and can afford) to leave her position at a law firm to become a local dog walker. It doesn’t seem plausible to me that she would aspire to this area of work, especially through such an odd transition and her lack of sympathy to the dog her sister Maggie takes in (and Maggie’s memorable gushing of their childhood dog versus Rose’s indifference to it). However, Rose was the most relatable character versus her wild, unfocused, and largely unemployed sister Maggie who still relies on pipe dreams of fame to bypass her lacking job skills due to an untreated childhood learning disorder. While Maggie’s past is undoubtedly sympathetic, the shallow attitude she has built around her personal issues is harder to pity. When Ella enters the picture, the story truly begins to unfold and as we witness her distant relationship with her granddaughters get closer and stronger, we notice Weiner’s golden touch as the writing becomes more natural and even lovelier to read.
Overall, I prefer the movie, which I saw before reading the book, as it improves on the story in a number of ways—it cuts out Maggie’s implausible stay-over at Princeton where she snuck into English lectures & stowed away in the library to improve herself (the movie has her befriending a blind retired teacher who helps her read); it improves on the shoe motif (“shoes always fit”), which is otherwise lost in all the subplots of the novel; and the supporting characters at the retirement home provide humour & strengthen Ella’s role.
The novel is a fun, summery read that I recommend for a light, breezy experience. The movie is a sweet entertaining piece, an even better option for a relaxing evening.
Rank: (B)- Good, Recommend