Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending,Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart Ass Phase
Author: Jen Lancaster
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
In Pretty in Plaid, Jen Lancaster reveals how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.
Think Jen Lancaster was always “like David Sedaris with pearls and a super-cute handbag?” (Jennifer Coburn) Think again. She was a badge-hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn’t know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this humorous and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life—and wardrobe—before bitter was the new black and shows us a young woman not so very different than the rest of us.
The author who showed us what it was like to wait in line at the unemployment office with a Prada bag, how living in the city can actually suck, and that losing weight can be fun with a trainer named Barbie and enough Ambien is ready to take you on a hilarious and heartwarming trip down memory lane in her shoes (and very pretty ones at that).
I’m a huge fan of Jen Lancaster. I love her snarky, sarcastic wit and the ridiculous things that seem to happen to her. I think it’s great how she manages to twist every situation in order to find the humor within it. I recently reviewed her third novel Such a Pretty Fat [review] and really loved it.
I had a lot of trouble deciding on how to rate Pretty in Plaid. Is it as funny as her previous books? Definitely. If anything, Lancaster’s writing has gotten better over the years. The stories are very amusing, though it is a little strange when she talks about herself in the first person at the age of 8. While reading Pretty in Plaid, it’s easy to forget that it is a memoir, rather than a book written by a novelist.
My problem with Pretty in Plaid is that it’s so different from Lancaster’s previous memoirs. Each of them covered a limited amount of time and had an overarching storyline that kept the reader hooked. Pretty in Plaid, however, seems to be a catch-all. It covers Lancaster’s entire life, up to Bitter is the New Black. As a result, it is a series of essays loosely grouped by the common theme of clothing, rather than a solid memoir. That’s not to say that Lancaster’s writing style and sense of humor doesn’t work for it; it definitely does. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. As a result, I didn’t find it quite as engaging as her previous books.
Still, Pretty in Plaid is a worthwhile read, especially if you haven’t read Lancaster’s books before. If you have read her memoirs and loved them like I did, definitely read this book. Just don’t expect it to be like her three previous memoirs. I am looking forward to seeing what Lancaster does next – I’d love to see a work of fiction from her!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review.