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Book Review: Nancy’s Theory of Style by Grace Coopersmith

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Nancy Carrington-Chambers is a woman who leads a remarkably charmed life. Descendant of “old” San Francisco money, she’s the pedigreed type whose refrigerator is stocked with nothing but varieties of bottled water, all neatly arranged by size and label. Her chi-chi Pacific Heights walk-in closet is meticulously ordered, she’s impeccably dressed and there are no dust bunnies in her wake. Her speech is peppered with witty expressions like “thrillified” and she describes the traffic in San Francisco as “grizzly” and is called Nancy Fancy Pants and Girl Carrington by friends and relatives.

She is so far above mere mortals in the social atmosphere (there’s a reason why the moneyed look down their noses) that I was at first concerned I could even relate to her. (Think Nancy Pelosi about 50 years ago.) Those first few pages proved Nancy Carrington-Chambers is a stereotypical spoiled rich bitch.

Rounding the bend in the third chapter, I could discern a few likeable traits. Nancy might have money, but she also has a bad case of naïveté. Besides, I couldn’t wait to see how the mighty will have fallen.

Nancy’s Theory of Style starts out another poor little rich girl tale, but ends up in a different place altogether. When we first meet Nancy, she is preparing to leave her newlywed husband, Todd. Of course he is fabulous with money of his own, but after a year or so of marriage, she discovers he is flawed. He’s the kind of guy who built a ginormous house in the suburbs complete with big screen TV in the bedroom and purchased a Mini Cooper (along with all of his friends) on a lark. He is rambunctious but seriously lacks style. The more they are together, the more she finds Todd unattractive, if not repulsive.

So she packs up her bags and her self-penned notebook on style for a brief marital sabbatical and heads back to her old apartment in Pacific Heights. Perhaps a career will help? Her idea is to concentrate on launching her party business, Froth. Todd kindly hires an assistant for Nancy.

We see Nancy morphing from prim and prissy socialite to a flesh and blood human being. Part of the reason is due to her jet-setting cousin dropping her four-year-old daughter Eugenia on her doorstep without a goodbye or bus change. The other has to do with the sparks flying between Nancy and her supposedly gay but hunky English assistant, Derek.

The foibles of childrearing (especially for a person with zero experience) are enough to soften Nancy’s starched edges. Of course there is also the super hot sex with the forbidden object of her desire. The combination of child and partner -assistant makes for a ready-made family, and Nancy falls for Eugenia, Derek and the idea of a family unit good and hard.

It wouldn’t be a great story without some conflict. Per the requirements of her pre-nup, she must keep Derek a secret and he has plenty of baggage of his own; there’s another guy waiting in the wings vying for her attention; and she starts a near riot at one of her events. Not everything in her perfect world is as it appears to be, and the big reveal at the end left me feeling warm and fuzzy. In fact, I couldn’t put the book down.

Nancy’s Theory of Style will be released May 18, 2010. For a somewhat wacky, sometimes touching venture into contemporary women’s literature, give it a spin.

Surprising, yes.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
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