REVIEW: 'Little Lady, Big Apple'
is easy, fresh and sassy
By Angeline Olschewski
October 29, 2007 | As a student, I find that any reading
that isn't required for class must require as few brain
cells as possible. My creative writing professor said
the more work an author does, the less work the reader
has to do. Hester Browne is one of those authors, and
Little Lady, Big Apple is one of those books.
Little Lady, Big Apple is a sequel to Browne's
first novel, Little Lady Agency. For those who
have not read the first book, Melissa is a British,
buxom brunette, redundant at her job and therefore fired,
and feeling redundant in life.
She gets tricked into working at an escort service
and when she discovers the fact, she quits. The little
time spent with her gentlemen callers gives Melissa
the idea that many men out there need etiquette training,
fashion training, and sometimes just need a pretend
girlfriend to take to company parties. Out of this realization
comes Melissa's brainchild, The Little Lady Agency.
Melissa lacks the confidence to pull off these trainings
as herself, and takes on an alter ego, Honey, who is
a buxom blonde (wig) and doesn't take any guff. Her
business grows quickly by word of mouth, and pretty
soon Honey has more clients than time. The book's main
conflict arises when Honey falls for her client, Jonathan,
an American businessman working in London.
Released in February 2007, Little Lady, Big Apple
is a refreshing sequel, as sequels go. Between her quirky,
dysfunctional family, whose head is a philandering Member
of Parliament constantly making Melissa feel like Spam,
and a mother who eludes her own sorry reality by knitting
scary creatures, the reader experiences quite a few
laughs. Combine that with some outrageous and blunt
roommates, and you've got the right combination for
easy, enjoyable, reading.
Browne uses witty dialogue better than most screenwriters:
Mummy … shook a handful of pills, and swallowed them.
"Valerian," she lied unconvincingly, seeing my shocked
face. "Valerian, Vicodin, Valium . . .," mused Daddy,
puffing on his cigar. "What's a couple of letters between
friends when you're working your way through the narcotic
Her British-speak is a nice contrast to the setting
of New York City. It's fun to experience the city through
virgin eyes. Browne's heroine is charming and likeable
largely because she is not the typical skinny blonde
with perfect skin, but instead is well-endowed brunette.
She does an excellent job of making Melissa relatable
to everyone who has felt "redundant" in the world, or
anyone who wonders which line they were waiting in when
heaven handed out families.
As a reader, you find yourself rooting for Melissa
to succeed and hoping she'll find the courage to wiggle
her way out from underneath her father's abusive thumb.
The only thing I didn't love about the book was how
many times you encounter this situation. There are moments
in the book where you scream in frustration the Melissa
plays Doormat too long. You wonder why Honey doesn't
let anyone take advantage of her, and Melissa lets everyone.
Aside from that, the book is very fresh, very smart,
and just what the weekend ordered.