Monday, 9 May 2011

Don't Quote Me by Charlie Kramer

Book 1 of the Quotable Women Series

In this romantic comedy London’s hottest fashion photographer, Claire Montgomery has a problem. Several actually. One; she remembers every event in her life by the shoes she is wearing at the time. Two; she has rules around dating. Three; her belief in monogamy stops her from marrying and four; her little hot pink book is literally on fire.

Claire’s a fun loving flirt who lives life by her own rules. She does it with style, in her vintage clothes and her over stuffed shoe closet, the only accessories she needs. Oh and of course she absolutely cannot do without quotes from the movie stars. Think Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Mae West and you’re on the right track.

Greek shipping tycoon, Sebastian Gionis has been announced as a candidate for Chic Magazines, Man of the Year. He’s good with business, not so good at relationships. He’s aloof and his physical presence has Claire’s her heart doing its own kind of rumba. In her eyes he makes Rock Hudson and James Dean seem decidedly insignificant.

Sebastian’s appearance shakes up Claire’s life and lands her in therapy before she can hit the road on the way to love.

This is the second book I’ve read that doesn’t follow the usual romance “rules”, and I must say I’ve enjoyed finding authors who write as the story intends, from their heart, and not to a formula. I do enjoy the formulaic books—they’re reassuring because you know what’s coming with a happy ever after, the conflict, and the resolution, among other things—but every so often, when you read a tale that doesn’t abide by every rule, it’s refreshing.

Don’t Quote Me is all about Claire, and, thinking about it now, if it had followed the rules, it wouldn’t have been true to her character. Claire is self-proclaimed selfish, so I don’t feel badly writing that in my review. She’s not all about herself, but she does come threatening close. And she’s adorable for it. I’ve said this before, but I do love a book where the main character has very real flaws and knows it, and once again I enjoyed reading about such a woman.

What I mean by the rules…one of them is missing (the male being a big part and the reader seeing every aspect of their time together): Although Sebastian is the main focus for Claire at times, he isn’t for the reader. Later in the book, there isn’t any major detail about him and his life with Claire as one might expect. As I said, it’s all about Claire, and as it’s told in 1st person, the missing rule works wonderfully. She’s got her man, and rather than Ms Kramer examining him when he becomes a major part of Claire’s life, she stays true and remains with Claire. I loved that and it is not a negative in any way, in my opinion. It’s a very big positive.

Don’t Quote Me is funny. Very funny at times. Claire just goes along in her life as she sees fit, expressing herself naturally, and she was a joy to read about. She’s vain, loves quotes and shoes (she owns hundreds) and lives her life her way but with a touch of Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, and all the great female stars back in the day. She dresses with her own style too, and she’s one of the most unique characters I’ve read to date because she’s so different.

…forcing the guy’s head into the valley.

Rumba-shaking fanny.

Shit, bum, poo.

“Jesus, I bet he grooms his pubes.”

I wonder what he’d think if I slid my tongue along the stitching.

The man had lodged himself in my brain like a wedgie.

Parking his little boy.

Lump of my mum’s boiled fruit cake.

Barrelling up the road like a moron.

“Do vaginas wilt?”

…whilst she was singing about the hills coming alive.

Ridley Scott.

Well shit me.

…almost toppled off my 1940 sling-backs.

Don’t Quote Me takes you on a very fun ride where you’ll get an intimate look into Claire’s life and also get to know her friends a little. She goes into therapy and comes out stronger for it, but my favourite part of all the book was her hypocrisy when she saw someone she knew coming out of her therapist’s office—someone she thought would have told her they were seeing him. The fact that she hadn’t told this person she was seeing the therapist was a classic human trait that I love, love, loved. It was okay for her to keep that information private, but not the other person. A wonderfully funny book that I highly recommend.

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