Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

I’m sensing a pattern here

on November 18, 2008

I enjoy fiction. A lot. Some of my more outspoken colleagues openly question my love of fiction, and others just kind of give me sidelong looks, but I don’t care. I can sit down and enjoy a good non-fiction book just as much as the next nerd, but fiction is where my heart lives.

I have several stacks of “To be read” books in my room, but when I’m at work, I usually wander over to the New Book section to see what piques my interest. One of the books that I found this way was The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer. This book is obviously marketed to women, and specifically those who have an interest in chick lit. I have absolutely nothing against the genre. Sometimes what you want is a book with some humor, romance, and vicarious fun that is not ONLY about romance.

I thought the book was funny, but I was bothered by how the main character tells a lie to save face, and then spends the rest of the novel telling larger and less justifiable lies to maintain her initial fiction. I definitely understand wanting to preserve your pride or trying to avoid looking foolish, but pretty early on, the deception crosses over into something else. I think that a lot of people can understand why Genie, the protagonist, would pretend that she is the person to whom her boyfriend proposed (over the phone) on live television, but then she gets more and more ridiculous as the book goes on. She buys a fake engagement ring, registers for stuff, and instead of trying to make some sort of graceful extrication, merely digs herself deeper and deeper into a mess.

I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy books lately (such as novels by Rachel Vincent, Mercedes Lackey, C. E. Murphy, and Sharon Shinn), so maybe I’m not just used to some of the conventions of other fiction anymore, but I really hate how reliant Strohmeyer’s protagonists are on dishonesty. I just started another of her novels, The Cinderella Pact. This novel also features a protagonist, Nola, who orchestrates a fiction that she then spends the rest of the rest of the book (so far) lying to maintain.

I don’t lie in order to get promotions, or to impress men, or really much at all (except to my nephew, and who doesn’t love lying to little kids??), and it disturbs me to see that dishonesty is sort of portrayed in these books as a functional way of life. I know, I know that the ends of these books have the heroines, their friends, and the fabulously wealthy romantic partners they’ve managed to snag along the way all chuckling and shaking their heads over the lies that were so recently such a large part of their lives, but this doesn’t ring true to me at all. I like my fiction to have a sort of internal consistency. And if it all ends up with everybody being understanding (after they’ve cooled off) and even admiring (However did you manage to maintain such a ruse for so long!), then why all the subterfuge to begin with?

I guess I’m probably thinking too much about these books, but I do think it’s kind of ridiculous how much effort both protagonists put into creating and maintaining an ever-growing amount of lies, all in the name of (financial, professional, romantic, personal) progress.

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