Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: The Dr. Pepper Prophecies

By Jami Deise

Jane Austen has been called by some (including me) the mother of chick lit, and Bridget Jones’s Diary is supposedly based on Pride and Prejudice. I say supposedly because I never saw the comparison. Bridget is nothing like the cool-headed Elizabeth Bennett and there’s no P&P equivalent of the Daniel character. Bridget may have been wrong about Mark Darcy being a snob, but in my book, that’s not enough for the comparison to hold weight.

If you like the idea of modern-day Jane Austen updates, however, you should enjoy Jennifer Gilby Roberts’ novel The Dr. Pepper Prophecies. Whether she’s intended to or not, Roberts has done an admirable job of updating Austen’s classic Emma for today’s chick lit sensibilities. (Important disclaimer: Everything I know about Emma, I learned from watching Clueless.)

Melanie Parker has just about the worst life imaginable. Her job is a mindless bore. Her ex-boyfriend is her new boss, and micromanages her down to the paper clips. Her parents constantly compare her to her sister, a stay-at-home mother and wife to a doctor. The only good thing in her life is Will, who’s been her best friend since she was in nappies. In light of all this misery, Melanie decides to bring light to others, by setting up her friends on blind dates and otherwise interfering in their lives. As the Dr. Pepper commercials ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” It’s a question she soon learns not to ask. The answer is never good.

The book starts out with one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever read. I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say I learned something about female anatomy and what can and cannot be seen from the mirror in an airplane bathroom. The scene sets a high bar for the rest of the book, and it most cases, it delivers. The passive-aggressive relationship between Melanie and her new boss/ex-boyfriend Martin, for instance, is hysterical, and I laughed through all their scenes together.

When an author references the movie When Harry Met Sally in the novel’s first sentence, it’s pretty obvious that the spine of the book will be whether two opposite sex friends end up together. While Melanie and Will don’t have the verbal chemistry that made Harry and Sally such a hit, they do have a Greek chorus of family and friends (excluding Will’s posh girlfriend Natalie) who think they should get together. As such, the book’s plot points are rather predictable – but this does not make the story less enjoyable.

My only complaint is that the book feels overly long. Melanie isn’t a rocket scientist; she’s a bit of a klutz who doesn’t learn from her mistakes. I felt a little exasperated with her by the end, which probably would not have happened had there been fewer pages and hence fewer mistakes.

On the whole, though, the book is a lot like the beverage for which it’s named – sweet, fizzy and fun. Just don’t drink Dr. Pepper while you’re reading it, because you might end up with soda coming out of your nose.

Thanks to Jennifer Gilby Roberts for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Jennifer Gilby Roberts:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the review.