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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Review: Scenes from a Holiday

Scenes from a Holiday

If singles events planner Nicki Heller thought she was confused before about what she wants from her relationship, then a blow to the head certainly isn’t helping matters. The doctors have assured Nicki’s family that she’s on the mend. But for now? Well, let’s just say she’s in, uh, a Hanukkoma. Trapped in the unconscious world of Menorahville, she’s celebrating Hanukkah on an endless loop…along with a date from hell each night.

Like anyone else in the world, Carrie Pilby used to make a lot of resolutions she didn’t keep. But this New Year’s, it’s going to be different. She’s going to be different. Really. The twenty-year old genius is determined to be less geeky and more social and has imposed a new rule for herself: leave the apartment at least twice a week. Hey, she has to start somewhere…

A country Christmas isn’t exactly at the top of Emma Townsend’s “Dear Santa” list. Flannel and work boots? No, thanks. She’s a dignified Manhattanite now. So how did she end up in “winter wonderland” yet again? It’s family tradition, and she can’t let her parents down. This is it, though – the last year she forsakes her life (and fashion) for ornaments and tree trimming. No matter how good-looking that guy in her yard is. Wait, where did he come from?

These three chick lit novellas are an entertaining holiday trilogy that’s perfect for this time of year! The authors capture the spirit of the season – or, more accurately, the frustration of the season, for a single girl – in light, easy reads.

In The Eight Dates of Hanukkah, Nicki Heller is a successful events planner for the singles scene, who on the first day of Hanukkah breaks up with her boyfriend, opts to work late, and ends up confronting a robber and getting knocked into a coma by an over-sized menorah. She spends the next eight days trapped in Menorahville, which looks a lot like New York City filled with desperate women who can’t wait to get married. Suddenly, Nicki realizes that, just maybe, she’s been too hard on the singles in her life and on the one guy, Mark, who actually wants to commit to her.

This novella was my least favorite of the three. Nicki is a fun character, but slightly neurotic and self-absorbed. I also wasn’t crazy about the over-abundance of exclamation points in every chapter. Nicki’s highly dramatic, woe-is-me attitude got a little old. Still, her discovery at the end of the story – that she has everything she needs in her life already – was a nice, “It’s a Wonderful Life” ending to this story.

Carrie Pilby’s New Year’s Resolution follows the adventures of twenty-year old Carrie, a genius who graduated Harvard early and is now trying to develop a social life and meet a man in Manhattan. I really enjoyed this story. The first-person narrator is likable in her insecurities, and she tries so hard to find a way to meet other people that the reader has to feel for her. She does meet Nolan, a smart, well-read vegetarian who seems right for her in theory, but really, she just wants to get down and dirty with Kurt, the brainless hunk she meets in a bar one night. Still, with the help of her over-the-top, best friend Kara, Carrie discovers that staying true to herself is the best way to meet someone else. The whole story is fun and sincere.

Finally, Emma Townsend Saves Christmas is a great tribute to the charm of New England small towns that drape themselves in holiday cheer from October to January. Emma is a farm girl from Vermont who escapes to New York City, becomes a high-powered lawyer, and meets rich Eric Wesson. The only problem? Each year she has to go home to the town of Bethlehem, population 226, and help her family with the annual Christmas Faire. Emma can’t stand the event, and she wears Anne Klein heels and Diesel jeans in protest. But when she discovers that her high school crush, Tim Latch, has signed on to help with the Faire this year, things change. This story was a heart-warming look at what is important during the holidays and how touching family traditions can be. Emma and Tim make a charming if unlikely couple, and the many scenes where Emma’s pretentious attitude is turned upside down are quite funny. Emma’s cousins, along with the townspeople, steal the show and remind this character that Bethlehem, Vermont, really does embody the spirit of Christmas, flannel and all.

All three novellas in this trilogy are entertaining and heart-warming, especially at this time of year. Scenes from a Holiday reminds readers what’s important all year round: family, friends, and staying true to oneself no matter the circumstances. Enjoy!

Review by Dandelion