Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: gabrielle charbonnet, james patterson, pop fiction, romantic fiction, sundays at tiffanys, terrible books
I find myself habitually avoiding so-called “popular literature” and decided that I ought to try diversifying and I gave in and picked up a copy of James Patteron’s and Gabrielle Charbonnet’s latest novel Sundays at Tiffany’s . After finishing Sundays at Tiffany’s I now have a reminder why I don’t read popular literature and why I don’t read James Patterson.
The premise of Sundays at Tiffany’s sparked my interest: Jane has an imaginary friend and years later as an adult believes she has rediscovered him in the flesh. As someone whom had her own imaginary friend (my beloved Bobby who disappeared when a real Bobby moved in next store), I thought it was an interesting topic and assumed that it couldn’t go too badly.
First, I don’t like Patterson’s writing style. I kept finding awkward passages, which were technically correct but forced me to reread sentences and paragraphs over. On the first page is an issue with parallelism, which I thought up dozens of arguments why it was indeed correct and not to worry about it. Of all people, I really am not a stickler for grammar errors but it made what ideally was intended to be a fun read not so much fun.
Two, the imaginary friend Michael was always an adult. For whatever reason I had assumed the imaginary friend was also a child, but no – he’s an adult throughout Jane’s entire life. So the reader kicks off the book with Michael being specified as a father figure and male role model that is otherwise lacking in her life. He comforts and treats her as a man would his daughter. Then half way through the book the adult Jane and Michael are having sex: it was at least a little awkward. This only becomes more strange as it is suggested throughout the book that perhaps imaginary friends are really angels but imaginary friends ultimately have no idea who or what they are.
Three, the authors are really trying to pull together a modern (at least for me) representation of the over weight and haggard woman needlessly brow beating herself. Some authors pull this together brilliantly, for example in Elizabeth Berg’s recent collection of stories The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted her characters embody this type of character but are still complex. Meg Cabot who I don’t even particularly like does a pretty okay job with this. Patterson and Charbonnet have that stereotype but fail to inject Jane with further complexities (besides a random short chapter where she volunteers at a women’s shelter) and the character ultimately falls flat.
And four: the happy ending. There is nothing wrong with happy endings. But when I reached the final chapters of Sundays at Tiffany’s I had to say: “You have to be kidding me? Right?” After Jane and Michael are reacquainted, Michael begins to wonder if he has appeared in her life again because Jane is dying and he’s meant to escort her out. But no! Jane’s pushy and manipulative mother Vivienne has a stroke and dies only after confessing her life has been a fraud and Jane has been the only person she has ever loved.
Give me a break.
Sundays at Tiffany’s is a rough book to get through but I did finish it. If you are about to board an airplane, if you have a bus stop you regularly wait at, or have any long train rides in the near future Sundays at Tiffany’s is a maybe bearable read. It’s light, undemanding, and repetitive enough it doesn’t matter if your concentration wanes. Patterson and Charbonnet stylize their writing to regularly address the reader, which does produce some reader engagement. But if you have anything else to read or would prefer books that produce some type of emotion steer clear of Sundays at Tiffany’s.
In retrospect though, you would still be trapped on a plane, train, or bus with Sundays at Tiffany’s so maybe just about anything else would be an improvement.
 I was told by a co-worker that Patterson doesn’t even write his own books anymore and at bests outlines them and allows his co-author to actually write the novels. I have no proof of this but here’s to workplace gossip!