Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer

312 pages
Published 2007
Penguin Group
New York, NY

I found out about The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer through a link to Framed and Booked on Semicolon's Saturday Review and decided to read it based upon the book's plot description -- it just sounded like such a fun and rather unique story.

The Plot:
At thirty-six, Genie Michaels feels like she has hit the snooze button on her life one too many times. When her "commitment-phobic" boyfriend Hugh proposes on national television -- not to Genie, but to an unknown mystery woman -- Genie's wisecracking friend Patty doesn't hesitate to give her some tough love: "You remind me of that idiot Sleeping Beauty, lying around like a zombie waiting for your prince. Well, guess what, he rode right past your castle and now you have a choice -- you can either go back to bed or you can wake up!"

Genie chooses to wake up. After some questionable advice, her first step is to allow everyone to believe she's Hugh's real fiancee. (She'll let him be the one to explain the mistake.) Naturally the good news travels fast and, in a heartbeat, Genie's parents are booking a reception hall while friends are showering her with gifts. Genie feels bad about the deception, but at last everyone is dancing to her tune, and she can't help but enjoy it...

Genie realizes that she never need a man to start her life-- to buy a home, to get a better job, or even to wear a diamond ring. And if Prince Charming wants to show up while she's at it, she just might teach him a thing or two.
(Summary courtesy of the publisher)

My Thoughts:
The Sleeping Beauty Proposal is a mix of romantic comedy, chick-lit fluff, and some valuable lessons for women who find themselves single and waiting around for Prince Charming to arrive before they get their life started.

From the beginning of the story I thought The Sleeping Beauty Proposal contained a very clever and unique plot, although at times it was a tad predictable. By predictable I mean it's your typical girl-power story. The heroine wakes up and finds herself single and past the world's "best by" date, but no matter how much time and effort she pours into her relationships (or career) she can't seem to reach that higher plane of success (i.e. marriage to Prince Charming, a house full of laughing children, or that promotion at work). Then something happens that pushes the heroine into taking charge of her life. She puts aside routine and tries something different. She makes something of herself in spite of the man who has hurt her, she finds happiness within herself and her friends and family, and in the end she finds real love and happiness... and in most cases her dreams start to come true.

Overall I enjoyed the story. Ms. Strohmeyer's writing is funny and entertaining, but also typical of the genre. I found myself comparing it to Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic. In both books the heroine of the story lies to cover up a problem, but soon discovers that lying only makes for more trouble, so she ends up telling the truth to make things right.

Aside from the heroine lying there were a couple other aspects to the story that I should mention as fair warning to other readers. For starters, the book does contain a moderate amount of profanity, but because the book was written by an American author the language is a little tamer than one might find in a British novel. Then there is the matter of premarital sex. While the are no graphic details (this is no Sex in the City) it is definitely an topic focused on by the author (characters sleep together, talk about sleeping around, or other intimate matters). As I said, nothing too graphic, but call me old-fashioned, it was just a little too much for my liking. I think Ms. Strohmeyer's story could have carried the atmosphere of romance without going into the level of detail she did. Last, the relationships within Genie's family are at times a tad dysfunctional. I did note that while Genie's family attends a church they definitely view a born-again Christian in-law as being a little bit of an oddity.

Still, if these issues are overlooked it's not too bad of a story. I think, if cleaned up some, it could make for a fun Summer romantic-comedy with maybe Sandra Bullock taking the role of Genie and Hugh Grant playing his look-a-like Hugh Spencer, Genie's boyfriend.

My Summary:
In my opinion if you are interested to read The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, borrow don't buy. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate The Sleeping Beauty Proposal a 2.5 to a possible 3. I satisfied my curiosity about this story, but it's not likely I'll pick up another novel by Strohmeyer any time soon.

Related reads:
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (no review, read pre-blog)
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella
Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde

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