Sunday, June 6, 2010

Girls Night Out Edited by Carole Matthews, Sarah Mylnowski, Chris Manby

390 pages
Published by Red Dress Ink in 2004, reprinted '06

I actually picked up this book from the library at the beginning of the year. I read it over a weekend, well most of it. I never actually read every page. There were some stories I chose to skim, others I skipped altogether, and still others that I enjoyed very much. Because my final thoughts about the book were very mixed I hesitated to post a review. In the end I've decided to go ahead and share what I liked and what I didn't.

Girl's Night Out is the sequel to Girl's Night In and is a collection of short stories by world famous "chick-lit" authors.

As might be expected with a collection of stories written by a variety of authors there are some winners and some losers in the bunch. Losers like the one tale of a woman who wants her wedding at a hotel so bad she tries to sabotage another bride's marriage-to-come by making her think her groom is cheating on her... only to have the plan back fire when her own fiance shows up and thinks she herself is cheating. Or the one where the wife of one year decides she's bored with her marriage and tries to reignite an old flame and then decide she really is happiest with her husband. She rushes home to him... only to learn he's discovered her secret and wants a divorce. Yeah. Blah. There was another worse than these two, but I skipped it altogether.

Then there's a few funny ones like the one where the girl has a bad breakup with her boyfriend so she makes a wish that live will give her a fairy tale romance. It's only after a few months and few dates that she realizes she might have gotten the wish she's Snow White and she's been dating the Seven Dwarfs.

And then there are few winners. There's the one where a young woman with a terrible scar discovers the importance of inner beauty and friendship; or the one with the young widow who finally heals and discovers the possibility of loving again; or the one where the girl with a mediocre existence one day up and quits her job, ends her so-so relationship with a boyfriend, and starts afresh. These changes all lead to many beautiful and wonderful possibilities, including the potential of finding true love.

It's been a long time since I read a book containing short stories, I think Ernest Hemingway in 2007 was the last time, or maybe it was O. Henry in 2008. I had forgotten how much I enjoy short stories. Their brief, to the point, and if you don't like one you can easily move on to the next. And to add to that this particular collection is light, fluffy, and for the most part funny and sweet (with the occasional lesson in life or love tossed in for good measure) -- while not nearly as well written as one of Hemingway's short stories, they are at least happier... most of the time. I can't say I agree with most of the character's worldviews and some of the stories do contain some questionable situations and language, but for the most part they are on par with the likes of a Sophie Kinsella novel. (Kinsella is one of the authors included in the Girls Night In short story collection.)

All in all, I enjoyed the light fluff reading over a snowy weekend (remember I read this in early 2010) after a very intensely stressful week. I was glad to be able to skip the stories I didn't like leaving me with a more favorable opinion of the collection than might otherwise have been. Although these books aren't new (published in 2004) I can say that this and it's predecessor might be the book of choice to read next by fans of Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, or Candace Bushnell, especially if they are looking for something different and fun.

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