Desert Isle Keeper
Do you remember the old maternal adage, “It’s as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one”? This question is taken up and explored in depth in Jane Green’s funny and thoughtful new book, Mr. Maybe.
Libby Mason has a pretty good life. She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s got good friends, and she likes her job as a PR assistant. But like every single 27-year-old woman, she’s begun to wonder if she will ever find Mr. Right. Even though Libby doesn’t necessarily want to settle down just yet, she is tired of being a third wheel with her “couple” friends and she’s tired of all the social scramble that being single entails. She dreams of finding the perfect rich guy, one who will sweep her off her feet, establish her in his Hanover Terrace mansion, and give her free reign to redecorate.
But instead of Mr. Rich, she first runs across Mr. Fantastic in Bed, Nick. Nick is a writer who lives in a dingy miniscule apartment in a less than prime real estate location. He’s also on the dole, a radical left-wing political, and has these intense, unfriendly mates whom Libby loathes. But they have a great time together in and out of bed. They laugh, they talk, and Libby, despite her resolutions, finds herself falling for him. Too bad he has a severe commitment phobia.
She then meets Ed McMann, genius financier, who is wealthy beyond belief and extremely interested in settling down. Ed is everything Nick is not – rich, powerful, connected, and ready, willing and able to commit. He’s also not everything Nick is – he’s not gorgeous, he’s not interesting, he’s not funny, and he’s not good in bed. But Libby is mesmerized by what he is willing to do to be with her and what he is happy to buy her. She can picture the wedding in minute detail, but is she truly willing to face the man at the end of the aisle?
First, I suppose we must deal with the inevitable comparisons to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. Yes this is one of many books in the British chick lit sub-genre I’ve heard referred to as Neurotica, and yes, there are some similarities. Libby is young, British, urban, somewhat experienced, and rather insecure. But she isn’t Bridget. She doesn’t have all of Bridget’s compulsive behaviors, and she’s nowhere near as manic. I quite liked her. I couldn’t relate to what a clotheshorse she is, but many of the observations she made about dating and relationships were very familiar because I’d made them myself.
In fact, the best and most poignant part of the book came in the section I was most reluctant to read: the part about how she and Ed relate. She makes all kinds of excuses to tolerate his annoying behaviors because she wants to have her dream of marriage and financial security. She comes up with all sorts of rationalizations – the same rationalizations I’ve heard come out of my mouth and the mouths of my girlfriends. She and her best friend Jules have conversations I myself have had.
Green does a great job developing her supporting cast of characters which can be tricky when the book is written in first person point of view like this one is. Jules and Nick are very likable, and even Ed, with all his flaws, comes across as sympathetic. Libby herself is very real. Far from perfect, but fun anyway.
This book manages to be a lot of very wonderful things: funny, romantic, thoughtful, and entertaining. Green’s writing style is easy to read and very enjoyable. I will be looking for her other books, both backlist and forthcoming. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Mr. Maybe. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.