I read this book after I saw the movie. Oh, how I wish I hadn't. Steve Martin is a genious! This book has such eloquent observations and economy of phrasing...it's as if each sentence is a bite of the most delicious thing you've ever eaten, and you just don't want to finish chewing it. I can't say enough about how much I loved this book. Timeless themes, modern sensibilities, and beautiful writing: what more could a modern reader want from a modern novel?
I read this book after seeing the movie, looking for an explanation of some questions I had after seeing it. It did a good job answering my questions.
I was surprised and impressed by Steve Martin as a writer. It was an engaging read, written smartly with eloquent passages. I consider myself to have a broad and extensive vocabulary, but I found three words I had to look up. Pleasantly surprising for someone with a love of words :)
Overall, a bittersweet story, though -- with a good dose of truth and a great look into a man's psyche.
The book is short enough that I thought I could burn through it in a couple of days. Not so - I kept falling asleep, so it took almost a week. I was bored and couldn't connect with either of the characters. I felt sorry for Mirabelle, but thought the rest of 'em could use personality overhauls of the Get-a-Clue type.
Steve Martin is a true Renaissance man. Readers expecting to find "Wild and Crazy Guy!" type humor in this text need not bother. Thoughtfully written, this melancholy novella is the perfect study of many May/December relationships, as well as the differences in the communications styles of men and women. I found it to be heartbreaking and beautiful.
Qurky and fun, but there is a HUGE jump in the last 1/3 of the book that kind of leaves your head spinning. Also, and this is not negative or positive, just a comment: A wee bit graphic, especially if you've watched a lot of Steve Martin in the past ;)
I love Steve Martin's style - although nothing like shopgirl herself, I felt like I was inside her head and could feel what she was feeling. He runs quickly through parts that deserve a quick explaination and takes the time to explain others that are worth reading every word to get into the characters and relationship dynamics. I heard that the movie was good as well and can see Clair Daines in the lead role...very excited to see it...
Such a sweet, sad, modern-day fairy tale told in almost complete narration and very little conversation. Martin is a talented writer and a crafty way of expressing himself - the book flows as quickly as the movie.
I had no idea that Steve Martin was an author as well as a comedian...and a darn good one too! A quick read, this book is nevertheless charming and thoughtful. There is a sweetness about it that I really enjoyed. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars in my journal.
A beautiful little book with heartbreaking characters. The story focuses on Mirabelle ("see beauty"), a depressed waif who works in the little-used glove department at a big department store. In her spare time, she talks to her cat and draws beautiful, brooding portraits that she keeps to herself. She meets Ray Porter who comes to her counter and has her select a pair of gloves for "a woman" that end up being herself. ("Ray" being a mathematical term, and "Porter" -- someone who guards a doorway -- to himself? Someone who carries baggage?) Their relationship is based on mutual attraction, longing for connection, and mostly what doesn't get said between the two of them. As you'd expect, there are clever moments of humor. A nice read with a hopeful ending.
Quirky little book about a stagnant, depressed young woman, Mirabelle, as she tries to navigate her life, understand her past, and look to a future. She begins a relationship with an older, richer man, Mr. Ray Porter who, in many ways, is just as lost as she. I found this book to be more sexual than I thought it would be... not too graphic though. I did enjoy the story and character development... it's description of Mirabelle's depression is poignant.
This is an interesting story of the ups and downs of falling in and out of love. Mirabelle, the heroine, struggles to find out who she really is in the course of finding out who she loves. Steve Martin is the author. I love his movies, but his writing isn't quite as funny. I bet it's not supposed to be, but I was a little disappointed.
It was a pretty good read, but throughout the whole thing I kept thinking "ewww Steven Martin can have a dirty mind sometimes!" :-P It was about a young woman who was trying to figure out who she is, her former (later current) boyfriend who was a slacker and found himself after landing a great job, and the older man in her life who doesn't know what kind of relationship he wants with her.
Overall, Shopgirl was an interesting novel; each section was important to the plot and the development of each of the individual characters. After much contemplation, I think a possible meaning of this story is that when one spends time getting to know a person, understanding their moods and personality, one become irrevocably attached to that person: they genuinely care for and love them even if they are unable to admit it to themselves. This meaning would be explained by the entirety of Mirabelle and Rays relationship: how it began, ended, etc.
The repetition of one line at the end of the book was something I found interesting; even though I am not sure I fully understand why the author chose to do this. In the middle of the novel when Mirabelle lied to her boss and chooses to enjoy an extended lunch break she sees a repulsive woman talking on her cell phone saying . . . just remember darling, it is pain that changes our lives (Martin 53). After hearing this Mirabelle cannot fathom the meaning of this sentence, as she has been in pain her whole life, and yet it remains unchanged (Martin 54). The line it is pain that changes our lives is repeated on the last page of the novel when Mirabelle is consoling Ray after he attempts to apologize for the way their relationship ended. This could be because the author wants to point out that one may not know how deeply seemingly innocent or likely to be forgotten events/occurrences may affect him/her.
One of our country's most acclaimed and beloved entertainers, Steve Martin is quickly becoming recognized as a "gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astoningly ironic (elle). Beautifully written, this novella reveals a different side of Martin, one that is unexpectly perceptive about relationships and life and profoundly wise when it comes to the inner workings of the human heart. This book is about a "shop girl" - a young woman, beautiful wallflower ish kind of way, who works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus selling things that nobody buys anymore....Slightly lost, slightly off kilter, very shy, Mirabelle charms becaus of all that she is not , not glamorous, not aggressive, not self aggrandizing. Still there is something about her that is irrestible. Mirabelle captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman almost twice her age. As they tentatively embark on a relationship, the both struggle to decipher the language of love - with consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking.
Like all of Martin's characters Mirabelle has problems but you can't help but be sympathetic and charmed. Mirabelle is the shopgirl of the title, a young woman, beautiful in a wallflowerish kind of way, who works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus selling things that nobody buys anymore . . .
Mirabelle captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman almost twice her age. As they tentatively embark on a relationship, they both struggle to decipher the language of love with consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking.
Steve Martin's first foray into fiction is as assured as it is surprising. Set in Los Angeles, its fascination with the surreal body fascism of the upper classes feels like the comedian's familiar territory, but the shopgirl of the book's title may surprise his fans. Mirabelle works in the glove department of Neiman's, "selling things that nobody buys any more." Spending her days waiting for customers to appear, Mirabelle "looks like a puppy standing on its hind legs, and the two brown dots of her eyes, set in the china plate of her face, make her seem very cute and noticeable." Lonely and vulnerable, she passes her evenings taking prescription drugs and drawing "dead things," while pursuing an on-off relationship with the hopeless Jeremy, who possesses "a slouch so extreme that he appears to have left his skeleton at home." Then Mr. Ray Porter steps into Mirabelle's life. He is much older, rich, successful, divorced, and selfish, desiring her "without obligation." Complicating the picture is Mirabelle's voracious rival, her fellow Neiman's employee Lisa, who uses sex "for attracting and discarding men."
The mutual incomprehension, psychological damage, and sheer vacuity practiced by all four of Martin's characters sees Shopgirl veer rather uncomfortably between a comedy of manners and a much darker work. There are some startling passages of description and interior monologue, but the characters are often rather hazy types. Martin tries too hard in his attempt to write a psychologically intense novel about West Coast anomie, but Shopgirl is still an enjoyable, if rather light, read.
I was really impressed by this book, which may have come at least a little for not expecting much, especially anything deep. But there was a lot of complication in this little book. While he breaks the "show don't tell" mandate of creative writing classes, I liked his style of writing. Though I felt the ending was missing...something...the rest of the book more than makes up for it.
Mirabelle works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus and attracts the attention of an older gentleman who can introduce her to the finer things in life, though not necessarily 'happily ever after,'as well as that of a young man her own age who is more awkward and unsure than Mirabelle herself. While I enjoyed the book, I was more intrigued by Steve Martin's ability to create characters that seem so real and true. No one is really a hero here. Each character has very likeable and unlikeable moments. A great read.
Mirabelli is the "shopgirl" of the title, a young beautiful woman in a wallflowerish kind of way, who works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus. Mirabelle captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman twice her age. As they tentatively embark on a relationship, they struggle to decipher the language of love and consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking. Filled with witty discerning observations.
This is my favorite novella and movie of all time. I loved the story, the characters, from the first sentence to the last. Its a quick read, and one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I could relate to the main character on so many levels. I think everyone should read this!
I never knew Steve Martin to be an author until I came across this little novella in a book sale and got to talking to the librarian about it. Like the comedian, it was a pretty sharp and witty read. Perfect for a day in the park.
From Publishers Weekly
Shy, depressed, young, lonely and usually broke, Vermont-bred Mirabelle Butterfield sells gloves at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus (nobody ever buys); at night, she watches TV with her two cats. Martin's slight plot follows Mirabelle's search for love--or at least romance and companionship--with middle-aged Ray Porter, a womanizing Seattle millionaire who may, or may not, have hidden redeeming qualities. Also in and out of Mirabelle's life are a handful of supporting characters, all of them lonely and alienated, too. There's her father, a dysfunctional Vietnam vet; the laconic, unambitious Jeremy; and Mirabelle's promiscuous, body-obsessed co-worker Lisa. Detractors may call Martin's plot predictable, his characters stereotypes. Admirers may answer that--as in Douglas Coupland--these aren't stereotypes but modern archetypes, whose lives must be streamlined if they are to represent ours. Except for its love-hate relations with L.A., little about this book sounds much like Martin; its anxious, sometimes flat prose style can be affecting or disorienting, and belongs somewhere between Coupland and literary chroniclers of depression like Lydia Davis. Martin's first novel is finally neither a triumph nor a disaster: it's yet another of this intelligent performer's attempts to expand his range, and those who will buy it for the name on the cover could do a lot worse.
"Shopgirl is an Audrey Hepburn of a book: slim, lovely, and ever so old-fashioned."
Trivia: Made into a 2004 romantic comedy starring Claire Danes, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Schwartzman, and Frances Conroy.