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Rereading Jenny: Faking It

February 28, 2014

[Spotlight posts contain spoilers.]

Faking It is another one of those books that I didn’t take to right away, which is ridiculous because I know now that it’s rock-solid.  It was Gwen’s fault, really.  Well, mine, because I couldn’t take Gwen for what she was off the bat; I kept putting my expectations on her.  And so nothing she did made sense to me, which shouldn’t matter, as she is not the lead, but for some reason it did.  It tripped me up.  It took me two reads to sort of get it, and three to really get it.

Crusie refers to the book as a spin-off of Welcome to Temptation, but I see it as more of a companion book.  She purposely cut any real information about what’s going on in Sophie’s town and Sophie’s life, because this is not Sophie’s book.  (The original, full-length phone conversation is here.  It’s good that she cut it.  Not because it’s bad writing, but because it’s unnecessary writing, and it’s something other authors do all the time, and it makes books feel more series and less readable on their own.)  It “stars” Davy Dempsey, Sophie’s brother, but like many Crusie books in this middle period, he doesn’t feel like a lead.  This book has such a huge cast that although Tilda’s romance is a big part of it, Davy himself is often off-page.  This is not a romance novel.  It’s chick lit with some mystery.

The money Davy stole from Clea has been stolen from him, by Clea’s newest dupe, a financial whiz nicknamed Rabbit.  So he’s trying to get it back by breaking into her place and trying to get into her bank accounts through her laptop.  Meanwhile, Tilda Goodnight, a mural painter with issues, is trying to steal an old painting of hers from Clea.  The two meet in the closet, and there are sparks.

We get a lot of Clea’s perspective in the book, which is great, because Clea becomes a lot more sympathetic than she was in Welcome to Temptation.  But this isn’t about her either.

It’s really about Tilda and the Goodnight family, specifically her sister Eve, who lives part of her life as someone else to compartmentalize being a single parent and being a sexual woman; their mother, Gwen, who’s been through years of lies and stress and just enough misery to keep her boiling under the surface; and Nadine, Eve’s teenage daughter who’s the best of both her mother’s personalities but still trying to find her way in the world.  Around them are several men: from Eve’s gay babydaddy, who gets to live a happy life with his partner while Eve is still punishing herself; to Mason, a rich man who wants to relieve someone else’s glory days, which for him includes having Gwen at his side; to Nadine’s succession of really annoying teenage boys and one amazing best friend who’s obviously in love with her.

Oh yeah, and there’s also the weird painter whose work keeps the family gallery open, and a really big secret behind locked doors in the basement.

There’s a LOT going on here.

The Goodnight women have spent most of their lives repressed, in part because of the men in their lives but currently by their own choices–barring Nadine, of course.  When Tilda gets caught hiding in a closet by Davy Dempsey, she meets a kindred spirit: someone who cons and seems okay with that.  While she doesn’t really approve, a life out of the metaphorical and literal closet is way better than the one in, and they end up with goals that sort of mesh.  Or at least Davy is willing to help her with her problem if he can find a way it works for him.

There are things about the Davy/Tilda relationship that I’m not super crazy about, mostly that it’s DAVY and he’s kind of a douche, who falls way too easily into the idea that he’s going to settle down with her, but these are after-thoughts that I’m having days after I read the book.  Weeks?  Something like that.  More difficult to pin down.  I’ve really gotta write these things right away.  But everything else gels, and the book is funny and seeing Davy and Tilda work as partners is actually very cool.  Seeing Tilda become who she should’ve always been is better.

The usual: “bent”–is this a con or detective term?  It comes up a lot in Crusie.

Sex with discovery? Yup, I think so.  However, there’s also really bad sex between Tilda and Davy to start out with, which I appreciate.  It is not a “sexy book.”

Interesting bff?  Tilda’s circle is basically her family, and Eve is only sort of interesting, which I suppose is why Crusie changed her lead from Eve to Tilda during the writing.  Eve is interesting in that she’s also Louise, but that mostly leaves Eve herself out in the cold, book-wise, because there’s not much call for an Eve.  There’s more Eve toward the end, which is where it’s best to get a grip on who she is.  Maybe because that’s her becoming who she is, too.

Witty dialogue, good mystery, blah blah blah.  Honestly, this is such a solid book that I don’t have much to say.  I don’t have the heaps of praise I do for the upcoming last “middle” book, Bet Me, nor the criticisms of her early work, or even the analysis that Crazy for You inspires.

It’s just a good book, okay?

Covers.  The reissue is, of course, awful.


faking it mine

There are some good things about this.  That’s obviously Tilda, for example.  It’s got the old-fashioned-but-retro-cool scarf and hair thing going, which mirrors the retro-cool feel of the characters, who listen to girl groups and commit heists and cons and whatnot.  But there’s nothing else there, no depth.  If you’d ask someone what they expect from a book cover like this…hm.  A test run with my (male) bff says, “Relationships?”

It’s too general.

The British cover is, of course, even blander:


There’s the usual Crusie food, music, and movies going on, including a discussion on muffins versus donuts, where muffins are the good guys, and donuts are the bad boys.  This looks like a FUCKING CUPCAKE.  That will taste like a muffin because it’s British.

Here’s the Indonesian cover, which I love the most:


It may have stick figure people, but when I showed it to my bff, you know what he said? “False identity.”  No question mark.

Finally, another overseas version that’s got a lot going for it, but it’s too pastel-y:


The title translates to “Loving Imposters,” if Google Translate is to be believed.  I like it.  I like that “Loving” could be either an adjective or a verb.

Next up: the last “middle era” book, and my all-time favorite romance of ever.

Still trying to decide if I’m going to take the collaborative books as a whole or one by one.  Either way, I’m reading them.  Maybe I’ll do the Bob books together and the Stuart books together…


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