Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Romantics

When I saw these pretty pictures in the J Crew catalog, I was immediately curious about the movie The Romantics. (Those publicists are quite genius.) Pretty people in pretty clothes are hard to ignore.

Then I found out the movie was based on a book. So of course, I got a copy from the library.

This is an interesting book, and not necessarily in a good way. A group of nine college friends - best friends - reunite 10 years later in Maine for a wedding. Their definition of friend is vastly different from yours and mine. Tom and Lila are getting married. Laura is the maid of honor, Lila's best friend, AND Tom's ex-girlfriend. All the other couples are interconnected as well, married or engaged to each other, each having dated another member of the group at some point in time.

Then wackiness ensues.

Okay, not wackiness. There is nothing lighthearted about this book. Mostly because the characters are all unlikeable. Every last one. You think you will like this one or that one, but they all turn out to be complete narcissists and terribly screwed up. Poor little rich kids.

In the beginning, it was fun read about the lives of wealthy New Englanders, see how the other half lives. Like in the way you might enjoy reality tv. People live like this? But soon their shallowness becomes unbearable. About half way through, the book spirals into a drunken night of revelation and truth telling. It gets ugly.

This is where the interesting part comes in: part of me that kind of liked this book. Not just because I felt a little smug reading it. Not just because you say to yourself, I am not as bad as these horrible people. They may have their ivy league educations and their millions but at least I am a good person. But because, to your surprise, you recognize a small part of yourself in these characters and get a little embarrassed for feeling so superior. You realize that the author is using extremes to expose human frailties. You may have never been jealous like these characters (trust me, it is not possible) but you have been jealous before.

So that is what I liked about this book: how it caused you to examine motivations, expectations, relationships, and social mores. I just wish the author had given you some good examples along with the bad.

Content note: While the author (thankfully) doesn't subject us to sordid details or long offensive passages, this book definitely pushed the limit. Also, there was some strong language.

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