Publication date: June 9, 2009 (Bloomsbury USA)
Tags: adult, humor, tragedy, friendship
Rating: 5 out of 5
Mormon housewife of four Becky Jack cannot believe her luck when she manages to strike up an actual conversation with her celebrity crush, Felix Callahan, on a trip to L.A. It’s just the one time, and Becky marks it down as a great story to tell her friends and family later. Her normally comfortable life of running the household and loving her husband, Mike, however, seems to slide into the land of fairy tales when, a few weeks later, Felix shows up in her small Utah town.
Becky is unable to understand why this handsome man, so happily married to his beautiful French model wife, keeps on insisting on being in her life. But they strike a friendship so deep, so all-encompassing, that everyone who knows them has no idea what to make of it. Being Felix’s best friend has its ups and downs, and the biggest down for Becky is wondering about how much of an effect Felix has on her when she is completely, utterly, 100 percent devoted to her family.
Can a housewife whose life is her family have a famous actor as a best friend? Or is everything too good to be true?
I have long been an admirer of Shannon Hale’s work; THE GOOSE GIRL is still one of my favorite books of all time, and Shannon’s previous adult novel, AUSTENLAND, is a charming read. But THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE is absolutely perfect. I was blown away completely. Not many books have left me both laughing so hysterically that I woke up my roommate and sobbing nonstop for a good hundred pages.
Imagine your favorite smart romantic comedy, novelized and plumped with three times as much goodness, and that’s what you get in Shannon Hale’s second adult book. Every single character in this novel is well-developed, interesting, and unique, though the witty and laugh-out-loud funny dialogue between Becky and Felix steals the show, of course. I swear Shannon must’ve been channeling some serious screenwriter vibes, because the dialogue belongs in a crowd-pleasing, box-office-record-breaking movie of the likes of “When Harry Met Sally.”
The emotions I experienced when reading THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE were astounding. Shannon Hale certainly had me collapsing in laughter at all the right moments (i.e. a lot of them). However, her brilliant writing developed the characters in a way that left me in tears for the sad bits of the book. It’s not too hard for a book to make me laugh; for a book to move me to tears, though, that is a remarkable piece of work.
This book will appeal to a wide range of audiences. Romance lovers will love the dialogue, the heartbreaks, and the hope. Becky is a Mormon and Felix is an atheist, but the novel only gently touches upon issues of religion, which allows for a greater range of appreciative readers. Smart women tiring of regular chick lit should read this, as well as teenagers who want a perfectly respectable fictional relationship to dream about—there’s no smut or anything rated higher than PG in this book, which is another smart move.
There will be mixed reactions towards the ending, for sure, but I appreciated it precisely because it broke the mold of the standard fairy-tale-like happily-ever-afters, and instead offered an alternative, though no less exciting, future for the characters.
THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE comes out at a great time—this summer, you’ll want laughter, love, and a bit of the unexplainable. This is a book that you’ll want to keep on your shelf forever, rereading it every summer to fall in love with Becky, Felix, Mike, and all the characters all over again.
When Harry Met Sally
10 Things I Hate About You
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover discussion: Ignore the cover! Take the dust jacket off when reading, for fear that it will cause you to ignore this book! (Ack!)