Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Pretty in Plaid

'Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase'
Author: Jen Lancaster

Format: Audio CD
Published: Penguin Audio; May 2009
Narrator: Jamie Heinlein
Genre: Memoir; Humor
Rating: A
Source: Library

Synopsis: In this memoir of a fashion-conscious life, Lancaster revisits her misadventures—and outfits over the years (from Girl Scout sash to Gucci purse)—with characteristic snarky humor. You have to hand it to Lancaster: you could find her younger self utterly insufferable, if it weren't for the fact that her present-day self is so clear-eyed about and obviously amused by her past behavior. Jamie Heinlein reads with just the right amount of confident, bubbly obliviousness inflected with a dash of wry knowingness. As is typical in the best professionally read audio memoirs, Heinlein recreates Lancaster so perspicaciously, it's easy to become convinced that Heinlein is Lancaster. 

My Take: Recently I've become enamoured with audio books, especially non-fiction on audio. I don't know why, but I find that they are really easy to listen to. Lancaster is probably one of my favorite authors when I just need a laugh and to feel like I'm not as snarky as I think I am (or am told I am!) and so when I saw that I could listen to another one from my library no one had to ask me twice!

Pretty in Plaid, I was happy to find, was for me, funnier than any Lancaster I'd read in the past, and I've read almost all of them at this point! I don't know what it is about memoirs, or any books really, that chronicle childhood and those tough coming of age years, but if you can throw in humor, you will usually find a fan in me. Holy crap, Lancaster's book was hysterical. If you were a child of the 1980s then you can pretty much relate to Lancaster. If your parents ever grounded you instead of allowing you to go out to party 'because all of your friends were doing it' then you can pretty much relate to Lancaster. If you had to work through college, got a crappy job right out of college, or can never find anything to fit your body type than you can relate to Lancaster! See what I am saying? In this book, unlike some of her others, she really becomes the every-girl.

Lancaster, in her early years, is uprooted from her happy-go-lucky childhood in New Jersey and moved to what she thinks is the middle of nowhere! Also known as Indiana. She is not happy about it. As a ten-year-old she quickly has to learn how to adapt and grow and adjust to this new life. Her sharp wit and snark isn't fully developed yet so she doesn't make friends as easily as she does in the future so times are hard for little Jen. 

We later see Jen as a college student and we learn just how much she had to go through to even graduate. Not everyone has it easy and Jen is certainly one of them. I could totally laugh out loud even when I was feeling bad for her. It's a rare book that has those elements in it. 

The she graduates and gets her first job and learns just how tough the real world is. Who hasn't gone through many of these very same things? I think pretty much anyone, if they could use a book that could qualify as a little stress release would love this book. This will definitely be going down as my favorite Lancaster book to date!

Cover Lust: I'd love it if it just didn't refer to plaid and then have argyle on the cover. Major fashion snafu, yo!


  1. Sounds funny, must get some of her books to read.
    p.s. love your note on the plaid/argyle issue....editors goofed there!

  2. I haven't read any of Lancaster's books though she has been on my list. I think I'll fix that this summer. I thought the same thing about the cover, why is it about plaid but they put argyle on the cover. Silly publishers.

  3. So I might not want to read the book but I really want those socks :D

  4. I've never read Lancaster's work, but a lot of my friends love her. I'd like to read this book.

  5. Totally annoyed by the argyle socks!! Have only read Bitter -- but laughed my way thru every word!

  6. I read this book when it first came out and it had me in stitches. I recently bought the audiobook just because I loved it that much :)

  7. i've never heard of Jen Lancaster before but you made me want to pick this one up!

  8. Love the cover too -- but, yeah, about argyle, not plaid. This sounds like fun!

  9. Lancaster sounds great! I've never read any of her books, but your review made me go to paperbackswap and look her up! I added three books (including this one!) to my wishlist! Way to make the TBR pile grow, ma'am! LOL

  10. This was actually my least favorite of Lancaster's books, but maybe it works a lot better on audio! I'll have to reread it like that at some point!

  11. I read one of her books years ago, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and thought it was hilarious. I need to pick up another one soon; I'm wondering about the novel she wrote..

  12. i love bitter is the new black! i haven't read any of her other novels, but i'm going to have to add this to my wishlist if it's the funniest one.

  13. I only just recently discovered Jen Lancaster. I am currently reading Such a Pretty Fat and I love her witty humor. She is incredibly easy to relate to and can make you laugh while you think, Oh, I totally hear you girl! I am definitely going to be reading more of her memoirs in the future!


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