Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Simply Irresistible
I first came across Philips’ writing a little over a decade ago, I was a teenager who primarily read old Hollywood biographies or film histories, but wasn’t above stealing some of her mother’s romance novels. It was on one of those romance-pillaging forays that I found a book called Honey Moon. I flipped it over and giddily realized it had everything I loved to read about, namely romance and movies. At first I was a little skeptical of the story, I thought it too close to the movie Inside Daisy Clover--a movie I thought to be extraordinarily weird and a bit unlikable, despite the stellar cast of Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, and Christopher Plummer-- but as I got going, the epic quality of the storyline and the fully rounded characters absolutely drew me in. I thoroughly loved the novel and never did forget the storyline, but after I was finished I put it back on my mother’s bookshelf and moved on to the next book (I’m fairly certain it was Lauren Bacall’s autobiography By Myself) and didn’t think about it again.
Over the last decade I have read everything (still in print) by Ms. Phillips and have yet to be disappointed. I walk away from each book with a trace of tears and large smile. The truly remarkable thing about these books is that when you finish one, there is (at least for me) an almost overwhelming urge to read another. Outside of my first encounter with Honey Moon (which I have now reread several times), I have been unable to read just one of her books. I seem to go through SEP reading cycles each time she has a new release. Suffice it to say that my copies of her books, while in excellent condition (I’m a tidy reader) are all very well broken-in.
Call Me Irresistible, Phillips’ latest (out 1/18/11), while not her best, is sure to have fans clamoring. Why? Because the protagonists are the offspring of characters from two earlier books (Glitter Baby & Fancy Pants), but she also briefly touches on characters from First Lady, Lady Be Good, and What I Did for Love. Incorporating past characters is something that Phillips does very well. She always manages to either throw in a mention or actually place a past character into her latest book. She understands that readers yearn for “the rest of the story” the after “the happily ever-after”, and she smoothly inserts the information into each new story. When you read these novels the characters are laid bare for you, their faults, strengths, and emotions become important and when the story is done you honestly want to know what comes next. The ability to invest readers in your characters is a true talent; something that Ms. Phillips has in spades. Also sure to capture fans is Phillips trade-mark mix of humor, heart-felt moments, and romance; all of which are put together by a masterful storyteller—definitely the best writer of romantic comedy that I’ve come across.