Book Review of Girlfriend 44

Girlfriend 44
Girlfriend 44
Author: Mark Barrowcliffe
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
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"You are not perfect," explains the laddish, caddish Harry Chesshyre to his 43rd girlfriend, Emily, in the break-up letter that opens this Machiavellian relationship comedy. Throughout his quest for the perfect mate, the 32-year old Harry maintains a stable, committed relationship with his flatmate, the finicky, repressed Gerrard. When their ultra-womanizing friend, Farley, apparently commits suicide over a love object named Alice, they both decide that she is the only one for them. Their farcical no-holds-barred competition for her, including a drunken pub crawl after Farley's funeral, counterbalances Harry's romancing of Alice as he realizes she might be "the one." Throughout, the witty, loquacious Harry serves as a mouthpiece for over-the-top opinions about men and women, sex and love. While Barrowcliffe's style is thoroughly British, his cynical insights into the single male mind are universal, such as his Maxim-esque tactics for hitting on girls: e.g., Mr. Listener, Search and Destroy, or the Mallory Principle: sleeping with your best friend's ex-girlfriend for the same reason as one would climb Everest ("Because it's there"). Where the novel falters is just where Harry doesAthat is, in its inability to comprehend Alice as a person, not just perfection personified. The other female principal, Lydia, while a witty foil to Harry and Gerrard, is similarly one-dimensional. Although this debut doesn't have the characterization depth of Nick Hornby's novelsAand Barrowcliffe's humor is far more misanthropicAAmerican readers will still find Harry's romantic misadventures amply entertaining. (Jan. 7) Forecast: The current rage for cynical romantic comedies from across the pond should help propel sales. That Ron Howard has already bought the film rights also bodes well.