First, thanks to novelist Joe Konrath, who introduced me to Ms. McQuestion on the pages of his blog. This is the first of her novels that I've read, and as I'm easilyamused myself, I liked it.
Anchored firmly in chick lit territory, Easily Amused is the story of Lola Watson. About to turn 30, Lola's reasonably content with her life. She's got a great job, good friends, and has recently inherited a fantastic Victorian house from her maiden great-aunt. There are only two areas of discontent. First, the newly acquired neighbors are awfully intrusive. Lola's a bit on the stand-offish side. And that may be part of the reason for issue number two: There's no man in her life, and hasn't been for quite some time.
She isn't the typical neurotic chick lit heroine. However, matters come to a head when her pushy younger sister decides to move her wedding forward to Lola's 30th birthday. I think we can all agree that that's just dirty pool. She and her best friend Piper begin plotting fantasy schemes of dream dates to take to the wedding, but suddenly the perfect dream man shows up and shows lots of interest.
Unfortunately, at virtually the same time, some else shows up. Hubert Holmes, one of Lola's oldest and dearest friends, is on the outs with his girlfriend. He needs a place to crash, and Lola has this huge house...
That's the set-up of this fluffy but enjoyable diversion. I found myself quite engaged with the story and characters, though Lola skirted with unlikability as she strove to keep everyone at arm's length. Still, I found myself reading deep into the night. I was in a blue space, and the novel's humor buoyed me. Ultimately, I'm not really sure I was fully satisfied with the novel's conclusion, but the process of getting there was so enjoyable that I'd certainly be open to reading future novels.
Biggest disappointment: Not one Watson/Holmes joke. Unforgivable.
Lola is almost thirty. About four months ago she inherited a house following the death of her Great Aunt. The reason she inherited and not another member of her family is still a mystery, as they weren't close. She loves the house, but she's beleaguered by neighbors with a too-active interest into hers' and everyone else's life. Loves living alone and having her own space (she's been stuck with more than her share of bad roommates)...until her best friend Hubert is quite forcibly removed from his now ex-girlfriend's pad and has no place else to go. She loves her job, but isn't crazy about her co-workers. Loves her other best friend, Piper, but can't really be bothered to care overmuch for Piper's child or her husband, whom she thinks doesn't have nearly enough of an active roll in raising said child. In short...and unfortunately in total, Lola is just not that nice of a person. And that's a big problem because EasilyAmused, what I believe is supposed to be a light romantic comedy but in truth is anything but, is told in first person POV. Lola's POV.
Giving credit where it's due, I have to admit, once I started Easily Amused, I couldn't seem to put it down. The narrative is oddly compelling and the story told in smooth prose that flows quickly and is rather easy on the mind, if not the conscience. It's populated by some rather adorable and quirky secondary characters. Personally, I wish they'd rubbed off a little more on the self absorbed, critical, judgmental, and immature Lola. I think they were supposed to...or by the end we were supposed to believe they had...but I can't say that part of the plot - or any part, really - really worked for me in any realistic way. The plot was not as well developed or interesting as one would hope, and mostly revolved around the rather idiotic idea that to get her sister Mindy back for mentioning Lola's birthday at the wedding Mindy was having on that day, she would bring a studly piece of arm candy to the event and announce her own "engagement," thus stealing Mindy's thunder and ruining her attempts to humiliate Lola by pointing out in front of family and friends that Lola is thirty, unmarried with no prospects, whereas Mindy herself is getting hitched to her high school sweetheart.
Seriously. What are they...twelve?
Lola is a woman who criticizes everything and everyone in her life, even her best friends. She's hypocritical - leaving a blistering voicemail for Hubert for some imagined thoughtlessness, then being utterly thoughtless herself more than once. She's utterly self important - when she needs to vent to her best friend Piper she's annoyed at the obligations of the new mother for her child. She's hideously judgmental - raking each of her neighbors over the coals in her mind, neighbors that come to her aid at the drop of a hat again and again just out of a sense of neighborliness. She's spiteful and utterly childish in relation to her sister - whose character, admittedly, makes Lola look almost saintly, but that doesn't excuse the behaviors.
I didn't like Lola. I loved Hubert, that sweet and caring man, and I loved the colorful neighbors with their good intentions and their kind souls. I even liked Mrs. Kinkaid, a member of Lola's staff. Ryan - the dashing love interest, and Lola's sister Mindy were developed more like caricatures than characters, her sister in particular as a stereotypical venomous, vicious little bitch and had she been my sister I would have long ago disowned her. That Lola hadn't given the list of shenanigans Mindy pulled off throughout her life made Lola seem sort of pathetic on top of all the other issues there were.
It's a shame that this book hadn't been written from a third person perspective, because Lola's questionable character and unappealing personality could have been muted with some broader strokes given to Hubert and the neighbors. It's also a shame that the plot hadn't had more thought and care given to it, or evidenced more of a change in Lola's personality as it progressed. A less subtle epiphany would have been enough to pull my rating up because it really does all depend on Lola's character development. As it's written, however, I found nothing much to recommend it and sadly, was not amused. 2.5 Stars.
This is the 2nd book I've read by Karen McQuestion and I'm not disappointed. It's the perfect book to take with you to the beach or pool. The story is filled with interesting characters and lots of humor, some very tongue in cheek. The main character is very engaging and a bit sarcastic. I was sad to see the story end. I want a sequel!!!
Not great literature, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. This is the kind of book you want to read when you have the flu. Nothing depressing, nothing heavy, just an engaging story with some good twists in the plot that will give you a few chuckles. The story is set in Wisconsin, a state where I have spent a lot of time. Karen McQuestion has a good ear for Wisconsin speech and life-style, and her characters are well-drawn.
Twenty-nine year-old Lola Watson has two best friends, a dream job editing a parenting magazine, and a charming old house inherited from a great-aunt she barely knew. Life would be perfect if only she could avoid her intrusive neighbors. And for that matter, she also wouldn't mind being happily married like her friend Piper, or even engaged like her younger sister Mindy.
Lola's peaceful existence is shattered when high school buddy Hubert moves in with her after a break-up, her sister changes her wedding date to Lola's thirtieth birthday, and the nosy neighbors take Hubert under their wing. Life gets more complicated when Piper sets Lola up with a good-looking stranger who turns out to be the talk of her neighborhood--the mystery man from across the street.