This month I enjoy the fab follow-up novel to The Devil Wears Prada. Then I try Bill Clinton’s debut fiction novel co-written with James Patterson, unsurprisingly filled with international political intrigue. An entertaining read.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS – Lauren Weisberger
(Published outside the USA as “The Wives”)
Rating: 4 stars
I have loved this author since her debut novel The Devil Wears Prada which became a wonderful showcase for Meryl Streep as the bitchy Miranda Priestley. I have read all her books since. This new offering, When Life gives You Lululemons or The Wives, takes us back to the characters from her first book. This time it centers around Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt in the movie). You may remember her as Miranda Priestley’s first assistant. She is wonderful! Bitchy, unapologetic, but also a good and loyal friend, this is honestly someone I would love to befriend. Or at least go out for drinks with! She is far more entertaining than the original Devil Wears Prada main character. The other two women the novel centers around, Marian and Karolina, are also great. Marian is a lawyer struggling to adjust to life in the suburbs. Karolina is a formal model whose senator husband sets her up so that he can marry somebody more politically connected. The three women unite to save both Karolina’s reputation and her right to see her teenage son.
I read this book lying on a warm sandy beach in Italy and I could not have asked for anything more perfect! This would also be a fab read curled up with a blanket, and some tea or red wine during the coldest winter South Africa has had in a while. It’s just that kind of book. Not much more to say other than you will enjoy it for sure. A special mention goes to Miranda Priestley’s cameo which I LOVED. “A peach, as always”.
THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING – Bill Clinton & James Patterson
Rating: 3.5 stars
Since I had recently reviewed Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened, when I saw this political thriller come out with Bill Clinton credited as co-author, I thought I would give her other (probably not better!) half’s debut novel a read. Of course, I have read many James Patterson novels over the years so I knew what to expect here. On that front, it did not disappoint. Twists and turns, political intrigue, a looming terror attack which the USA would never be able to recover from, and only one man who can stop it. The main character, President Duncan of the USA, is a war hero, grieving widower, proud and devoted father and of course, morally and ethically unimpeachable. Approached by a stranger with insight into something only eight people know of, the President knows he has a chance to derail the terrorists but also that he has a traitor in his midst. Exciting stuff!
I did enjoy this book. However, if you are looking for deep insight into the workings of the White House you will probably be disappointed. It reminded me a little of screenwriter Terry Hayes’ 2015 debut novel (and the best book I read that year) I am Pilgrim, although unfortunately not quite as good. This book is also a little formulaic with the requisite good person turned bad. The Economist pointed out that the character of President Duncan may well have been wishful thinking on Bill Clinton’s part. I would probably agree with this rather cruel assessment.
There were also a large number of strong female characters in positions which are usually male occupied. Think for example, the Israeli leader and Director of the FBI. Perhaps Hillary was peeking over his shoulder while writing. While I usually appreciate this, it seems a little fake coming from the man who took advantage of a young intern while in office #justsaying.
The final chapter of the book is also something of a rant. It goes into topics of climate change and other issues, which while important, had no real place or connection to the story. It felt like a tack-on chapter where someone wanted to showcase their political viewpoint. In any case, I think these issues are generally forgivable. If you look no deeper than what this is, the new James Patterson novel, The President is Missing is an entertaining romp and worth the read.
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