Wednesday, September 06, 2006

EMILY EVER AFTER by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

EMILY EVER AFTER by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

From the back cover:

A quirky and quick-witted girl moves to Manhattan and holds on for dear life.

Emily Hinton needs out. She comes from a small town in California where the church handbell choir concert passes for a decent way to spend a Saturday and she’s known all the boys since kindergarten. She dreams of sophisticated people, love, and Louis Vuitton. When she lands a job at the world-famous publishing house Morrow & Sons in New York, she knows that she is finally on her way. She packs her bags, says good-bye, and sets out for Manhattan, where she will fit in, even if it kills her.

In spite of her naïveté, she quickly becomes friends with the girls at work and begins to learn a thing or two about how things are done in Manhattan. She soon attracts the attention of the handsome Bennett and is swept into a whirlwind romance, but an overnight visit to his parents’ home at Thanksgiving and his seemingly idle flirtations with one of her colleagues give her second thoughts about what Bennett really wants. Her uncertainty about her feelings escalates when one of the hometown boys she left behind reappears in her life. Emily’s days at the office are also becoming complicated: an ambitious editor is breaking all the rules to publish a controversial book that demeans everything she believes in. Will she stand up for what she knows is right and risk losing it all?

Balancing her passion for the glamour of New York City with her determination to live by her morals turns out to be much more difficult than Emily ever imagined. Her roundabout quest for happiness will endear her to anyone who has ever dreamed of making it big, and faced more than a few pitfalls along the way.

Camy here:

This was a fun excursion to New York City from the eyes of a career woman who lived and worked there. The authors’ experiences in the city shone through in the little details of Emily’s life that popped up in every corner.

The spiritual thread is very real. You don’t have to be a city girl to remember the agonies and throes of dating, manipulative boyfriends, the lure of money and career.

The nice thing about this book is that the authors show Emily’s mistakes without any goody-goody side to her that make me want to gag. This is a flawed, normal heroine (imagine that!) who succumbs to some temptations and not to others, who knows what’s right and doesn’t always do it.

I also liked how her uncle Matthew shows how a person can truly serve God with complete abandon. He never comes across as too good to be true. He also shows the heart for the lost in the big city, for both the homeless and the rich and successful. It was a very nice counterpoint to Emily’s seeking and wandering.

I didn’t always understand the motivations behind some of Emily’s actions, and I also never quite related to her desire to leave her small California town for New York. I’m from a small Hawaii town and I moved to California, but I didn’t have the kind of tight friendship Emily had with Jenna, and my parents wanted me to experience the mainland while Emily’s parents are reluctant for her to go. Emily had a lot of strong ties to her hometown and I never really understood why she needed to go to New York so badly.

The authors’ voice (voices?) are funny and fresh. Sometimes it seemed to ramble a bit, but on a whole, the story moved along like a raft on a class 3 river—ups, downs, snags, but always moving onward.

The ending is cute and climactic. Emily’s strength makes her someone to root for.

Entertaining book. I don’t know if I’d give this book to a junior high school student because some of the singleness themes are rather mature, but I think it could be a good read for college and possibly high school students, and definitely 20- and 30-somethings.

Excerpt of chapter one at Amazon under “Editorial Reviews.”

1 comment :

  1. I read this just after finishing "glass castle" and couldn't help compare the 2, though was is non-fiction and the other fiction. Both are about female characters who head for Manhattan to see if there is a better life. Though Glass Castle is real and dark, this book was light and yet provided a sense of realism since there were times where Emily was challenged by common temptations: men, wealth, career vs. her true self.
    Ultimately, it was a refreshing break. I also appreciated memories of what it is like to be new in a workplace as well as new to a city. It reminds me we can all be a little gentler with one another.