|Book Reveiw 7-19
Sunday, October 12, 2008
By Denise Turney
I saw the movie version first. I loved the movie. I loved the book which I finished reading over the weekend. Shopgirl is a small book written with a touch of Steve Martin’s dry humor. Readers who aren’t familiar with Steve Martin’s writing but who have seen him perform comedy on the big screen may well be surprised at how talented a writer he is. The way Steve Martin writes reminds me a bit of John Grisham’s style.
Steve Martin’s writing style is punchy, quick, to-the-point. Somehow he manages to take the reader to the heart of his characters, allowing readers to connect to the character’s deeper feelings. I liked this about Shopgirl. It made the book memorable, unique – standout. There were also times when I wanted the writing to be less punchy when it came to intimate scenes so I could go that much further into what the characters were experiencing and feeling.
But Shopgirl is a success. The story centers around Mirabelle, a clerk who works the glove department at Neiman Marcus’ in Los Angeles, the city of angels. Two men are enamored by Mirabelle. One is an up-and-coming musician who starts out as awkward as Mirabelle is at the beginning of the story. But the musician, a quirky guy named Jere my, changes; he changes a lot. The other man who works to gain Mirabelle’s attention is Ray Porter (he’s played by Steve Martin in the movie version of the book). Ray Porter is a wealthy fiftyish single man who’s trying to find his way with women. He has no trouble getting women, keeping them is his challenge. But Mirabelle is fragile. She can’t stand much shock, and a man giving her less than all of his heart is definitely shock in her world.
Los Angeles’s personality and upscale ways are brought to light marvelously in the book. It’s important to be chic in Los Angeles and Steve Martin does a wonderful job of putting Mirabelle in situations where her small town upbringing appear to be handicaps but in the end are not. Mirabelle doesn’t have many friends, at least not the “good” kind. Her friends invite her to events. She goes and then her friends don’t show up. Mirabelle also hasn’t yet learned to value her art or more importantly herself, but she learns.
Shopgirl’s closes wi th a surprising ending, a happy ending for Mirabelle and a valuable lesson for Ray Porter.
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