April 22, 2010


by Christie Mellor
256 pages, William Morrow

Review by Maria Bustillos

Christie Mellor’s rise to fame began with that classic of real-world parenting, The Three-Martini Playdate. The nation’s beleaguered parents have long been thrilled with Mellor’s deliciously lighthearted POV, for she actually advises parents to relax a bit on the Raising Perfect Children thing. What a relief from the “My two-year-old just won a Nobel Prize!”-type pressures of raising our young in this enlightened age. Better still, The Three-Martini Playdate encourages, in its giddy way, equal respect for all the members of a family, rather than requiring everyone to focus on just the children’s needs. My own kids are pretty much grown up (whew!) but I still enjoy this charming and wise little book a lot.

In her new book, You Look Fine, Really, Mellor’s undeceived, hilarious worldview shifts over to another legion of sufferers in equal need of relief and enlightenment: women “of a certain age.” I am a member of this very group, and I am pleased to report that this gifted author has not failed us. The chatty, conversational style of You Look Fine, Really makes it a book to dip into for fun, and often, so leave it around in the kitchen or somewhere you can just pick it up for a minute and have a good laugh now and then.

Mellor’s style recalls the great genius of Ruth Eleanor “Peg” Bracken, a similarly matey and lively author of the 1960s, who good-naturedly poked fun at all the stiff conventions of those begirdled days. And yet there is a serious message under there, as there is in Mellor’s books: a deep vein of sublime melancholy runs through the philosophy of both. This is a great part of what makes these books so perfect for women past forty; we have been around the block, and we don’t want to hear a lot of bushwa about how to be Fabulous! because we have learned that that is not really what life is about. So, where Bracken has, “Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink,” Mellor gives us the sublime, “I can’t imagine running for an entire hour unless I was actually being chased, and the person/monster/alien chasing me would have to be heavily armed and/or breathing fire.”

In closing, let me add that this lovely, funny little book will make the perfect birthday or mother’s gift for any woman approaching or over forty, provided of course she’s got a sense of humor.

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