Monday, June 23, 2008

Lovehampton, by Sherri Rifkin

Sherri Rifkin’s debut novel Lovehampton is a rare beast: a non-irritating book about a thirtysomething professional woman in New York*. As the story opens, TV producer Tori Miller has just signed up for a shared vacation rental in the Hamptons. Tori has spent the past two years recovering from a bad breakup and the loss of her dream job, but (thanks to an intervention from her best friends that included a starring turn on a makeover reality show) she is finally ready and willing to experience three months’ worth of glamorous parties, new friends, and summer flings.

Fish-out-of-water romances like Lovehampton usually follow a very specific pattern: the heroine ventures into new territory, gets in over her head, lies about something, has her lie exposed in a hideously embarrassing way, and learns a salutary lesson. Rifkin makes some welcome changes to this formula—Tori does venture into new territory, and she does lie about (or at least conceal) her reality-show-tainted past, and it is exposed in a embarrassing way, but Rifkin doesn’t subject her to any stupid salutary lessons. Instead, she presents Tori as an ordinary woman who makes a few bad decisions, but a more-than-equal number of perfectly reasonable ones—and the combination of an intelligent, sensible heroine with the requisite romantic-comedy hijinks makes Lovehampton one of the most satisfying beach reads we’ve come across in ages.

*I don't think it features a single Sex in the City reference! Not one!

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