Book Diary: Jennifer Crusie – The Cinderella Deal

I was in a bit of  a slump recently and therefor in need of being cheered up; so I grabbed this random book by Jennifer Crusie who has never yet failed me in that regard – her novels are my first aid box kit emotional emergencies. According to a brief preface by the author, The Cinderella Deal was her first novel for Bantam, and the first one where she moved away from pure comedy to something with more heart to it. While I rather disagree with that assessment of her previous novels, as I always found them quite touching myself, I agree that there is a bit of a difference between this and a novel like Manhunting – although I’d argue that it’s not so much a lack of heart in the latter but rather a feeling of raised stakes in The Cinderella Deal.

In this later novel, the protagonists seem to be more involved, seem to get entangled with the plot and each other with their whole being – which might be just a way of saying that with The Cinderella Deal Jennifer Crusie moved from situation comedy to character comedy. Almost as if to make that point, the characters of the protagonists here are pretty much total opposites of each other – he is a serious, rather OCD academic, she a flighty, somewhat insecure artist. Things work out pretty much as expected – he needs to produce a fiancée to get a job, she needs money to pay her rent; they find out they rather do like each other after all, so when they need to continue their charade and pretend to be married as well, they are both quite willing to, even if not yet ready to admit that to themselves…

As the novel’s title already indicates, this is very much a fairy tale, so one should not expect too much in the way of realism, but Crusie manages to make the change of heart her protagonists undergo sufficiently plausible to not break suspension of disbelief, deviates enough from standard Romance formulas to keep things interesting, and, as always with her novels, is just sheer, exuberant fun guaranteed to brighten up a gloomy mood. It might be the literary equivalent to chocolate cake, but it’s by far the best chocolate cake you’re likely to get, and one I’d leave many a main dish for.


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