The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing has been getting a lot of buzz in my neck of the woods, so I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. When the story begins, it seems as if it’s going to be about the trials and tribulations of a single woman on the dating scene. After a while, it loses that focus, only to return to it at the end. The result is a somewhat disjointed novel which at times is quite funny, but also misses the mark now and then.
The heroine of the novel is Jane Rosenal, and her story is told in a series of seven chapters that read like short stories on their own. Indeed, a couple of them were short stories published elsewhere. The stories are all connected, except for one, which isn’t about Jane at all and seems to be thrown in for no particular reason. While several of the stories deal with Jane’s romantic life, they are also about her career, her family, and briefly, her struggles with an illness.
At first Jane seems like a less neurotic version of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones. But Jane is more detached then Bridget, and somehow less real, too. That is due in part to the style of the book; although it’s told in first person narrative, the style is more anecdotal than confessional. Some of the stories are more interesting than others. One tale about a trip to St. Croix didn’t do much for me, and the stories that centered around Jane’s relationship with a much older man were also not favorites.
However, when Jane’s funny, she’s really funny. The last story, which is called The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing like the book itself, is hilarious from start to finish. Desperate to have a successful relationship, Jane buys one of those books on how to catch a man from the self-help section. After she reads it, she pictures the two authors talking to her and giving her advice as she pursues a relationship. The results are laugh out loud funny. There are other moments throughout the book when Jane suddenly says perfect things with which anyone can identify.
All in all, this book is a little hard to describe. Sometimes it’s right on the mark, sometimes it just isn’t that great. It’s a very quick read that is certainly no bomb, but doesn’t exactly live up to the hype either.