Title: Mercury in Retrograde
Author: Paula Froelich
Published: June 2, 2009
Page Count: 272
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit
My Rating: 3.5/5
In this debut novel, the lives of three women intersect when they each decide to move into the same SoHo apartment building. Penelope Mercury is an intrepid reporter at the New York Telegraph who spends her days pounding the pavement in every borough to meet the unreasonable demands of her boss. She aspires to covering courtroom drama for the paper, but on one disastrous day, instead of being promoted, she gets fired. Lena “Lipstick Carcrash” Lippencrass is an Upper East Side socialite who works at the high fashion magazine Y and loses her perfect apartment after her wealthy parents cut her off from her trust fund. And Dana Gluck is a corporate lawyer on the verge of becoming partner who has seen her marriage and prospects for motherhood disappear, leaving her almost comatose with depression.
As these three very diverse women become friends, they soon discover that having their carefully planned lives fall to pieces might have been the best thing that could have ever happened to them.
I have to admit that I approached Mercury in Retrograde with some trepidation. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with chick lit – some books I LOVE and others I can barely get through fifty pages without chucking the book across the room. I was hoping for this one to be great, but as the description reminded me of a Candace Bushnell book (love the show, hate her books, sorry) I was definitely nervous.
Luckily, Mercury in Retrograde sits way closer to the first category of chick lit than the second. The three women were completely believable, and even though all three of their circumstances were nothing like my life, I related to them right away. There was just something so authentic about their voices. This is the kind of chick lit I can really get behind – real women with real issues, dealing with work and family and friendships and, yes, relationships too.
What I especially liked about this book is that these three women were very career-oriented, and really cared about their friendships and their families, with the relationship issues in their lives playing a secondary role in the book. In many chick lit books that I’ve read, the women are seemingly obsessed with the men in their lives, and a page will not go by without the mention of the trials and tribulations of their relationships. Mercury in Retrograde was realistic in that it did not ignore the fact that these women care about the men in their lives (or out of their lives), but they clearly realized that said men are not their ENTIRE lives. I have to say that this perspective was very refreshing and I really enjoyed it.
Another great thing about Mercury in Retrograde is the character development of Penelope, Dana, and Lipstick (although I must state here, for the record, that I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually tolerate being called “Lipstick” as a first name). The three women really grew throughout the book, and Froelich did a wonderful job showing how the three of them truly learned from their circumstances and changed for the better.
There were two small things that annoyed me, and I have to be completely honest here because not to do so would be unfair. The secondary characters were way too one-dimensional and cliche (especially the parents, for goodness sakes). Also, the end of the novel was a bit preachy. It felt a bit like a made for TV movie the way Penelope summed up their experiences for the reader.
Overall, I really liked this novel and would absolutely recommend it for fans of chick lit and womens’ fiction. Thanks to the author for sending me Mercury in Retrograde for review!!
More reviews -