Queen of Babble

Grade : A-
Reviewed by Lisa Gardineer
Grade : A-
Book type : Chick Lit
Sensuality : Warm
Review Date : August 9, 2006
Published On : 2006

I loved this book. I was amazed that I did – Chick Lit not being my thing, and all. But I’m not prejudiced against any genre, really, having read all the prerequisites for Chick Lit 101: Helen Fielding (amusing), Sophie Kinsella (not a fan), and Jane Green (rather good), along with some other popular choices. Still, I take these books in small doses spaced very far apart. First-person, girl power tends to get on my nerves after a while and I yearn for a TSTL heroine and her tortured hero.

I was initially drawn to this title for it’s premise, which sounded a bit more promising than others, and because I have never read Meg Cabot before. Heard great things and saw The Princess Diaries movies, but never picked up any of her adult titles. This book will have me reading her entire backlist except the YA books. I didn’t read YA when I was YA – I’m not going to start now.

We start by meeting Lizzie Nichols at Heathrow airport waiting for her boyfriend Andrew to pick her up. She sees a guy in a red leather Michael Jackson jacket and thinks he might be a stalker. Turns out it’s Andrew. She forgets what he looks like since she only knew him for one day prior to him flying back home to England. She spends one night with her self-proclaimed soul mate before realizing what a jerk he is and hops the next train to the French countryside to meet with her best friends, Shari and Chaz.

Shari and Chaz are staying at a French chateau for free in exchange for helping with a family wedding. They have already extended the invite to Lizzie in case things went south with her British lovah. This all sounds a little to far-fetched for the average Midwestern girl, but Meg Cabot writes Lizzie’s experiences in a way that leaves this plot totally acceptable.

Enter Luke. Lizzie gushes on the train about her failure to graduate college and the problems she had with Andrew to a complete, albeit gorgeous (aren’t they all?) stranger sitting next to her. Said stranger turns out to be her host at the chateau and Chaz’s close friend.

From here we meet Luke’s obnoxious girlfriend, his wine-obsessed father, a group of Texas socialites, and a punk rock band in for the wedding of Luke’s cousin to Vicky. Vicky could give Star Jones a run for her money for the title of Head Diva Bridezilla. It’s all very amusing, and all the characters – down to the lead singer of the punk band – are expertly fleshed out. Not very common for a first-person narrative.

Grandma Nichols deserves her own paragraph. She made a very short but noteworthy cameo, only appearing in one scene with Lizzie and then doing a rather good Yoda conversation on the phone. She is my favorite character next to Lizzie. She’s cranky, loves Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, and has a low tolerance for beer (which she loves). One of the best quotes from the book references her: “I’m on that word like Grandma on a can of Bud.”

My only real issue was the book’s time frame. Unless we are going for suspense, I don’t see a reason for the book to encompass only five days. Given that all the characters would be in France for a month, why couldn’t Luke and Lizzle have spent a little more time together, for the sake of realism? But other than that quibble, Queen of Babble features great dialogue and a heroine I didn’t just like, I loved.

It was a true pleasure to read Lizzie’s story. I laughed out loud near the end at an unforgettable scene involving a certain movie theme song we all know. The excerpts of Lizzie’s thesis that start each chapter are hilarious, please don’t pass them up. Best of all Lizzie is the same girl at the end as she was at the beginning, just a bit more grown up. That makes all the difference. This comes highly recommended.

Lisa Gardineer

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