When Harry Met Molly
With its association to the movie, this title cannot help but evoke wit, snappy dialogue, and an enemies-turned friends-turned-lovers story. I can attest that Ms. Kramer’s debut provides all of that. I can also claim, with complete impunity, that the premise isn’t just ludicrous or nutty or implausible or stupid. It’s all of that.
The character setup is a winner. Lord Harry Traemore and Lady Molly Fairbanks have been foes all their lives. Their enmity began when they were children and culminated when Molly was thirteen and wrote an excruciating bit of revelatory poetry that resulted in Harry being sent into the army and Molly being sent north to a restrictive boarding school. Through family functions they continue to meet over the years, hating and insulting and sparring with each other. But it comes to head when a series of circumstances forces Molly to pose as Harry’s mistress.
That’s right. The daughter of an earl poses as her family friend’s mistress. You can put some of the blame on Prinny, who devises the following wager: The Impossible Bachelor who comes up with the “Most Delectable Companion” gets to remain unmarried for another year, and the loser has to marry a woman of his club’s choice within two months. Harry is on his way to the contest with his mistress when he meets Molly and her fiancé at a wayside inn. The fiancé runs off with the mistress, Harry and Molly are stranded, and what do you know? Our hero coerces Molly into being his fake mistress, promising in return to help her find a husband.
Are there words enough to describe the sheer insanity of such a plot? Call it a romp, call it a farce, call it whatever you want, but I can only suspend reality so far, and this was beyond ridiculous. The worst part is Harry’s selfishness. He doesn’t consider that although this contest is held privately in a secluded location, it could still have social repercussions for Molly, and in the end it does. He doesn’t think that involving a sheltered, aristocratic virgin he has known since birth and whose sister is married to his brother, during a weekend of low-key debauchery with four other rakes and their mistresses, just isn’t a good idea. This is not mere dislike; these are the actions of a selfish, irresponsible jackass who does not respect women.
But Ms. Kramer does something amazing: She allows the reader to brush aside the illogic, forgetting the idiocy of Molly trying to be a fake mistress, and redeems Harry. Because this book is seriously funny. I could not stop smiling, and one passage had me laughing for a full minute. Then Harry grows up, realizes he has done wrong, and makes it up to Molly. On top of that, Molly is a great heroine. She’s smart and honest. She lets her mouth get away from her. And she and Harry truly become best friends. I love that.
So although the book descends into an unbelievable farce of elephantine proportions, I have to recommend it. Ignoring the premise, When Harry Met Molly is hilarious. The secondary characters round things out very nicely, and together the two are a treat to watch. The book ends up living up to its namesake; I didn’t even miss the fake orgasm.