Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Rita Hayworth's Shoes

By Melissa Amster

All hands are on "Deck" in Francine LaSala's debut novel, "Rita Hayworth's Shoes," which was inspired by screwball comedies from the 1940's.

Amy Miller's wedding day is nothing like she dreamed it would be, as it is being held at a dive deli instead of a fancy church. To add insult to injury, her fiancé doesn't even show up! Then she ends up killing her boss, to make matters worse. However, things turn around for Amy when she buys a pair of beautiful, but expensive shoes that once belonged to Rita Hayworth. She meets Decklin "Deck" Thomas and gets swept up in a romance she never thought she deserved. And just when things start going right, Deck's former wife throws a wrench in everyone's plans. Suddenly, nothing is what it seems.

I had a fun time reading "Rita Hayworth's Shoes" and didn't want to put it down, especially when I got into the thick of the story. It is full of quirky humor that stays fresh throughout. Amy is a sympathetic main character and she has a great supporting "cast" along with her, from her best friend Jane and Jane's daughter Zoe to the mafia inspired "Building Boys." And we can't forget about Deck. He's a fantastic romantic interest for Amy and I think he'll make readers swoon, even though he's different than most romantic interests. It goes to show that we can't judge a book by its cover. The dialogue was realistic and the story flowed nicely. I liked Ms. LaSala's use of description, as well. There's a mystery running throughout the story that keeps readers guessing the entire time, which made it all the more fun to read. It's not a heavy mystery, but it's like playing "Clue." You really have to be paying attention to put it all together. Then she tosses some pleasant surprises into the mix that are guaranteed to leave readers cheering.

There were some things that got in the way of "Rita Hayworth's Shoes" reaching absolute perfection. The first was a lot of spelling errors, as well as some grammatical errors. There were times I wanted to take a red pen to it, but I held back. Then there was the issue of Zoe. She's supposed to be six years old. The back cover says she's "sagacious." However, I had to keep checking the summary to see if she really was six or if I was just imagining things. She sounded like she was thirteen, if not older. There were some interesting comments on the irony of Zoe sounding way older than her age, which I found amusing. In any case, if she wanted to make Zoe sound cute and precocious, while also being intelligent, she should have made her sound like a little kid and tossed in surprise profound statements here and there. I was a little freaked out at the idea that Zoe knew more about sex and relationships than most adults. While there were some great characters, there were also a lot of extra characters that reached the realm of too many, where it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who. It may have been helpful to put Amy's voice in the first person, but I could tell that Ms. LaSala also wanted to show some other perspectives throughout. Things were a little far-fetched at times, but that's the key to screwball comedy, right? There were also things that were left unanswered by the time I reached the last page. Finally, while the chapter names were cute and funny, I wish there had been more mystery to them instead of practically giving away what was going to happen in each chapter.

Overall, this was a quick and fun read and I encourage you to check it out. It's the icing on the cake of our humor month at Chick Lit Central, so to speak. It had a Sophie Kinsella feel to it, combined with some satirical humor. I could see it being made into a movie that would be a modern twist on a story with a feel of the classics.

Francine LaSala will be at CLC on Thursday and she has five copies of "Rita Hayworth's Shoes" to give to some lucky readers anywhere in the world. So stop on by!

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