Reading the Romantics

Cover of "The Romantics"

I just came home from a two-week trip to the US and, as always, I stocked up on books. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase (thanks to buying too many things on sale at Macys, the Gap, Banana Republic, J.Crew and West Elm) to bring all of the books with me. My mom is going to have to send a CARE package with my books + some items I love but cannot buy in Sweden.

Anyway, one of the books that fit in my suitcase was The Romantics by Galt Niederhoffer. I blame J.Crew for my buying this book–not because the book is in anyway awful (it’s not, I was sucked in from the first page) but because of their Romantics spread in the September catalogue. I went into J.Crew only looking for a new pair of ballerina flats; I left with several scarves, some socks, no ballerina flats and a determination to find this book ASAP. Why no ballerina flats? They didn’t have my size left in the three patterns I wanted–but that’s another story.

So I ended up in Borders on Avenue of the Arts/Broad Street and found The Romantics, bought it and sat down in their café with a triple-shot latte. The story is nothing new: two frenemies and rivals in love with the same man. One is Laura, who is Jewish and both longs for and hates the WASP lifestyle of her friends; the other is Lila, the golden girl who stole Laura’s boyfriend in college and now, ten years later, has asked Laura to be her maid of honor. The story then follows what happens when Laura and Lila’s friends gather in Maine for Lila’s wedding to Laura’s former boyfriend, Tom. Allegiances shift, Tom doesn’t seem to be sure whether he actually wants to marry Lila, old jealousies come to the surface. It all makes for a pretty captivating read.

My only complaint about The Romantics is that I felt the cast of supporting characters was indistinguishable. Names were mentioned, but because their personalities were so similar, it was difficult to see any real difference between Anna or Tripler, or Pete or Jake or Oscar for that matter. I think more could have been done with them. Also, Niederhoffer has the characters speculating over Oscar’s sexuality without ever clueing in the reader why they think he’s still in the closet. It seemed superfluous to me. What was the point of having Tripler say that she knows Oscar is gay when it has nothing to do with the rest of the story? Well, who knows?

The film based on The Romantics was released in the US last week but I didn’t get a chance to see it. It stars Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin and Josh Duhamel, who are featured in the J.Crew spread wearing lovely outfits that made me drool. Katie Holmes plays Laura but when I was reading the book I envisioned Rachel Weisz.

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