I hear lots of horror stories about guys acting like jerks when it comes to dating and relationships (both in reality and in novels), so when a guy actually does something romantic, it's cause for some serious swooning. Even if that romantic gesture could be seen as quasi-creepy....as evidenced in Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace.
Jason Priestley (not the actor) is living in an apartment over his friend's video game store, right by what is rumored to be a brothel. He's so out of touch with the music scene that his favorite band is Hall and Oates. He writes snarky reviews for a free newspaper and gets to find out his ex-girlfriend's relationship developments through Facebook (while all he can say on his page is that he's "eating soup"). So when he has even the slightest connection with a pretty girl on the street, he could just dismiss it and move on. However, that's not so easy when her disposable camera falls into his possession and his best friend convinces him to find her through her photos. Soon he's on a quest to find the girl of his dreams.
The cover of Charlotte Street says it "Looks set to be this summer's One Day...." That could have kept me from picking up this delectable treat. However, a friend who shares the same taste in books as me told me she loved it and so I was eager to check it out for that reason. Thankfully, it is nothing like One Day. (No offense to those of you who liked that novel.) The only thing the two novels have in common are British name-dropping and obscure references. (What's so funny about Percy Passage anyway?!?) No, this is more like Attachments (by Rainbow Rowell). Both have guys who become smitten by girls they don't know, just based on what they see in front of them. Both guys seem creepy and stalkerish for what they're doing, but it makes them lovable protagonists anyway. (Think about how Zack on Saved by the Bell was always doing selfish and manipulative things and would still have girls wanting to be the next Kelly anyway. Same thing applies here!)
Needless to say, Jason Priestley charmed me from page one, no matter how much everyone else saw him as a hot mess. There was something so endearing about him that I just wanted him to "win" throughout the story, even when he was digging himself a deeper hole. He had a great cast of characters with whom to interact, from his best friend, Dev to music groupie, Abbey and even his ex-girlfriend, Sarah. The lengths Jason goes to in order to find the mystery girl are rather clever and it's fun when they generate new and interesting results. It's like he's going on a scavenger hunt of England, trying to find the answers that will put him in the path of the mystery girl once again.
Aside from obscure British references and some slang I had trouble translating, there was nothing I didn't like about Charlotte Street. It's a charming novel and a fun piece of escapism. I enjoyed seeing a guy admit his vulnerability and flaws. If only more guys were like Jason, I have a feeling there would be far less dating horror stories out there. (Of course, less chick lit novels would be around as the inspiration wouldn't be there as a result.) I think Charlotte Street would be a cute movie and I would definitely check it out on the big screen!
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