I have written before about what I term the stunt memoir. The author, usually an already well established writer, comes up with some sort of stunt to try for a year, and then writes about it. I have read memoirs about giving up electricity, not buying things, not buying things from China, and making amends with all the people you have alienated. All these stunts generally take one year. After reading so many of them they start to feel really contrived. All you need is an agent to pitch it to, a publisher, and a great book advance and voila, paperback memoir and a big book tour. None of them has given me terribly great insights.
Enter a variation on the theme: established contemporary writer reads a long forgotten tome by some famous person and lives a life in response that work and writes about it. The best example of this is Julie and Julia about the woman who blogs her way to fame by cooking all of the dishes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, also made into a movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep.
Falling for Me falls under this catagory as Anna David comes across a copy of Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown written in 1962. Ms. Brown is an early feminist who talks about having a career and attracting men. She posits the idea that you don't have to be dowdy to be powerful. It is okay to be sexy and wear make-up and be a modern woman.
Anna David is thiry something and sadly single and decides she will follow Gurley Brown's advice for-- guess what?--one year and see where that takes her. Perhaps a bit of the 1960's Cosmo editor's advice is all she needs to perk up her languishing love life. Ms David takes up new hobbies, redecorates her apartment, makes herself very available to dating all kinds of men through on-line sites, speed dating, volunteering and going to the beach. She redoes her wardrobe and her voice and in the last chapter spends a lovely summer in Spain.
She does fall in love, but in the end she falls in love with herself, and the last chapter is really the best written and most interesting as she details how she really has become a whole person because of her ability to re-do herself. The rest of the work feels a little tired and worn out, and she somes across as really pretty shallow. Most of the men she meets never pass her sexy meter or looks meter, so even though she vows to give more men a try, it really felt pretty low brow. The cover you see here on my blog is different from the one on my advanced copy. This cover actually makes it seem a lot more fun than it really was. Though I love the ending and the realization that one can love oneself, I also think that in many ways it felt like one 300 page singles ad.