I have a confession to make.
It’s a little dark.
It’s a little obscure.
I probably need some sort of support group for it….
I collect quotes.
Lots of quotes. Thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands of quotes (I am honestly too scared to measure at this point)…
I have books filled with quotes from books and films and poems, weird latin sayings and odd Egyptian glyphs; phrases I like from textbooks and interesting ways of using words; I line them up on my bookshelf, notebook after notebook.
I’ve been doing it since I was about 9 and was going through a Harriet the Spy phase… and finding nothing interesting on our five ½ acre property to report on (hey – there are only so many kangaroo and goanna sightings you want to record), I just started writing out parts of books that I thought were interesting.
And it grew from that innocent start, into the leaden menacing monster it is today.
This is all a prelude of course, to my telling you, that to me? The power of a good quote is like catnip.
I can not resist the allure.
And this is why it was 3:43am this morning, and I was still re-reading The Cinderella Deal, by Jennifer Crusie.
I blame Miss Bates entirely.
She started it with her quote, and it reminded me of Lincoln and Daisy and I couldn’t rest until I had found my favourite quotes from the book…on the QUOTES bookshelf…
And then I couldn’t rest until I found the actual book on my ACTUAL BOOKS bookshelf…
And then I couldn’t rest until I had read a little bit – but just the first chapter, cos it was already late…
And by that point? Who was I kidding – I was totally reading that book and then it was 4am and well – it was almost daytime – so I may as well get up.
And now it is 5:30 in the morning and I am typing with the all ferocity of an over-tired, under slept and emotionally jet-lagged person who hasn’t slept in over 24 hours and still has to leave for work in less than 3.
BUT TOTALLY WORTH IT.
So, The Cinderella Deal.
Daisy Flattery, former teacher, trying to make it as (a yet unsold) artist. Behind on her rent, with the bills-they-are-amounting, she has reached a point non-plus.
Lincoln Blaise, a rather cool, repressed history professor, who desperate for a dream job, creates a fiancé out of thin air, and then needs to produce an actual one.
Lincoln and Daisy live in the same building.
Lincoln thinks Daisy is cray-cray.
Daisy thinks Lincoln is a rather cool fish (albeit one with very nice shoulders)
You totally know what is going to happen right?
Yup. A pretend fiancé, a thousand dollars, one weekend.
BUT that is not all and that is not even the start.
The thing I love about this book is the fact that it veers off track, just when you think it’s going to crumble in obeisance to the power of the TROPE. Everything has a slight twist to it, that springs into action when you least expect it.
I also love how the running theme between both Daisy and Lincoln, is the idea of differentiating and combining narratives. That each has a separate narrative, that they are walking and telling, but that others may also join in, supplement and add to this structure.
“This is your fantasy,” she told him. “I’m just along for the ride until midnight, when I turn into a pumpkin. Why don’t you just tell me your story, and I’ll memorize it, and we’ll be done.”
“Great,” Linc said, and began to talk. It was so much worse than Daisy had imagined, full of plans for a woman in a designer apron and smiling, apple-cheeked children dressed in Baby Gap and a stuffy career in a stuffy town. The man had no imagination at all, and she was stuck in his story. Thank God it was only for twenty-four hours. If anyone had heard her, her storytelling career would have been over forever.
The iconization of the Cinderella motif features heavily, but it becomes both a running joke and a private form of backhand conversation between them, that makes it a point, of not angst, but enjoyment within their relationship.
Her laughter spurted, something between a giggle and a snort. “So you pick me up out of the gutter, and I get a new dress, and I pretend to be something I’m not, and then at midnight I run away and turn back into a pumpkin.” Her grin widened. “It’s a Cinderella story.”
Daisy put her hands on her hips and glared up at him. “I’m going back to the motel. This is my idea of hell, but I have been good for five excruciating hours, and now it’s time for me to be set free. Take me home, cupcake, or I’ll turn into a pumpkin right here before their very eyes. And the first one I show my real self to will be that patronizing anorexic dwarf with the bad bleach job.”
“I’m sorry I lied, God.” Linc looked up at the ceiling. “I’m sorry I tried to pass this woman off as my fiancée last spring. Please stop punishing me.” Daisy went on brightly, in her best idiot voice. “And then we’ll do this again at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And Easter, if we’re still married.”
“Pumpkin cake.” Linc stood, bumping her off his shoulder, and went to make the reservations.
Additionally, there is a true-to-life realism (in a completely unrealistic story), in the way each others’ perception of their physical attributes changes in accordance with their relationship development.
When Linc first meets Daisy, he thinks her hair is frizzy and crackling, she was always scowling at him, ‘her heavy brows drawn together under that dumb blue velvet hat’. Daisy thinks Linc is tall and broad and threatening. But as the story develops, their interpretations change: Frizzy hair becomes masses of dark curls, Little House on the Prarie on acid, becomes wholesome; Threatening becomes protective, what was perceived as cold is actually a deliberate attempt to control stress…
It’s fascinating to read.
Also – THE ANIMALS.
If there is one thing I can not stand within novels, its the faux-animal – the plot-puppy – that inconceivably irritating creature that stands only to further the plot and bears no resemblance to a real animal at all.
It makes Valancy CRANKY. Also – authors that clearly don’t have pets, but feel its quite ok to write about them – Grrrr. (*cough – Gilles Seidel – cough*)
Well – I don’t know for certain, but I FEEL that Ms Crusie knows about both cats and dogs.
some of my favourite parts involve the animals:
“You’re going to have to lie low,” she told the kitten. “I’m not allowed to have pets, so we’ll have to hide you from the landlord. And from the guy upstairs too. Big dark-haired guy in a suit. No sense of humor. Flares his nostrils a lot. You can’t miss him. He kicked Liz once. He looks like he has cats like you for breakfast.”
“Jupiter’s an original.” Linc looked down at the dog with pride. “He’s not one of those soulless pure-breds.”
Jupiter lurched on his bad hip and fell over sideways.
“No, that he isn’t,” Booker agreed. “What is he anyway?”
“Part beagle,” Daisy said. “And part a few other things.”
“He looks like he’s been recycled,” Evan said. “A very practical dog.”
This story is not just of how one impulsive and sometimes lonely women, finds and falls in love with one bottled up and repressed man – but how the very things that caused their angst in the first place, are what they each grow to love in the other anyway.
I love the realisation and slight (but not complete, because that would be ridiculous), adaptations to the other’s needs. The changes that need to be made in individual characters to ensure the greater whole of the relationship.
What had happened to scatterbrained Daisy Flattery? Who was this woman who knew she was going to be sick and planned ahead for it? Not Daisy Flattery, who let the ravens feed her.
Daisy Blaise, he thought. My wife. My wife, the adult.
His throat closed with emotion, and he leaned against the stair post until he got his composure back. Then he heard her moving upstairs and went up to see if she was all right. She was throwing up her hamburger and Coke in the bathroom.
“I told you so,” he said to his wife, the adult. “Now will you have some soup?”
The rest you totally have to read for yourself – otherwise it would ruin it.
Although both characters read years younger than their actual selves, the enjoyment, sass, snap and crackle is too good to discount. And there is even chapters on remaking over a house – I KNOW! love, interior decorating and subversive feminism…what more could you possibly want?
It is light and slightly airy – but more in an angel food cake than a cotton candy kind of way – there are some intriguing truths partially submerged within the surface of the story that contain substance and thought – but most of all?
Daisy and Lincoln and Liz and Annie and Jupiter are just totally awesome characters.
I would have them for house mates ANY DAY.
Valancy: pretending no-sleep + a great book = the same thing as 8 hrs shut eye.
Header Image: Hilary Knight’s Cinderella