If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend
I am a sporadic reader of Chick Lit. I like the first-person point of view and the beta heroes that are frequently found there. If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend is just the kind of story I like. It has a heroine I can relate to, a sweetheart of a hero, and a nice touch of character growth.
Jane Laine works at the Dick Reese Gallery in New York City. The man she thought was “the one” recently dumped her, and she loathes her boss, Dick, who seems to live to make his employees as miserable as possible. When Dick informs her out of the blue that she is supposed to accompany their #1 client, Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons, on a series of art fairs around the world, Jane is seriously ticked off. She thinks Ian is a fake and a fraud, and she doesn’t understand his popularity or renown whatsoever. The fact that anything the gallery does concerning Ian makes Dick more of an ogre than usual is hardly an incentive to work more closely with him. But Jane doesn’t have a choice, and getting out of New York with all its memories of her lover doesn’t really seem like a terrible idea anyway. So she prepares to make the best of a bad situation and takes off to London for the first leg of the trip. Little does she know these art fairs with Ian are about to change her life and her heart.
The basic premise of If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend stretches believability a bit in a way that is pure wish fulfillment for me as a reader. Jane is an everygirl, and it’s very easy to identify with her dislike of her boss, her irritation with certain stressful aspects of her job, and the bad luck (usually instigated by Dick himself) she has while traveling. The book is structured by art fairs – New York, London, Rome, Chicago, and Santa Fe – and each city (with the exception of Chicago in the wintertime) sounded divine. Reading about Jane’s adventures was like traveling vicariously without the jet lag. Jane and Ian spend a month in each city, first participating in the art fairs and then showing Ian’s work at a local gallery for the remaining time. What a perfect amount of time to experience each location. Color me jealous!
Alison Pace’s writing style is easy to read and sprinkled with bits of humor as well as quotes from Andy Warhol. The book reminded me a little bit of last year’s Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella, my favorite Chick Lit book of 2004. It wasn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny, but it had the same sweet, happy tone to it that makes for a feel-good read. And there is one scene in which Jane has Christmas dinner with Ian, her family, and her mother’s schnauzer that is quite amusing.
The most appealing parts of the story center around Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons, who is a bit of an unlikely romance “hero.” He’s short and bespectacled, dresses in extremely bright colors, and is constantly scribbling ideas on graph paper. However, he’s also brilliant, rich, famous, feted by the art world, and a really, really nice guy. Watching Jane let go of her preconceived notions about him and let herself experience his genuine niceness was a treat.
If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend was a great change of pace from what I’ve been reading lately. If the premise that an everygirl can be noticed and cherished by the artist of the century is a bit of a fairy tale, it’s just about my favorite one. Love stories are supposed to make you smile, and this one definitely accomplished its goal.