Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review - The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter… Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity heartthrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened…though nothing has happened. It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special…something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

After settling in for what I thought was going to be a quick, breezy read I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this novel has some depth.

Very rarely can you read a book where the main characters are of the opposite sex and just friends. Nothing more, nothing less. Heck, I won’t lie…I really don’t ever want to read one of those novels. I enjoy my romance and my women finding their happily ever after. So I picked this one up because I was intrigued by Becky, a married & Mormon pregnant woman who gets to meet Felix Callahan, this fictitious world’s version of George Clooney. Their chemistry is immediate & the banter between Becky and Felix is clever, quick and, at times, laugh out loud funny. She’s not intimidated by his sunny, golden-boy good looks and he’s intrigued by her honesty and her complete lack of awe.

Hale has created complex, wonderful and lovely characters (both main and surrounding) that make even the unlikeliest events in this book tolerable. I found myself often rooting for them to get together; despite the fact that Becky was married with children (this makes me a creep!). I’m not entirely sure I can blame Hale who, in tackling the question “Can men and women be just friends?”, takes great care to reinforce Becky’s love for her husband and children, to show Felix’s lack of belief in Mormonism & to continually remind us of how different these two really are in life, beliefs and values. On the other hand, Felix and Becky get to be such good friends that the intimacy between the two makes you feel a little uncomfortable when remembering Becky’s aforementioned family. I was left torn, hoping that Becky would remain true to her family and yet still wanting these two to provide my happy ending. So while the issue of platonic relationships between men and women is explored, nothing is resolved.

I will say this book is not for everyone. Some parts of it are so sweet and sappy, it’s ridiculous. Also, I ‘ll admit that I don’t know much about Mormonism, so certain things struck me as odd. Still, it’s a pure, fun story and sometimes that’s all you need.

LitSnit verdict: B


  1. Maybe it's superficial of me, but I tend to look for romance in my chick lit as well as plot, character, and all that good stuff. This sounds like a good, interesting read, and I like the men and women can just be friends aspect, but I'd want them together as well. And, like you said, if they're emotionally closer than Becky is with her husband, is that almost worse than cheating on him? I don't know. I do have some celebrity crushes that i think I'm more interested in hanging out with than having any kind of romantic affair with (like Jon Hamm, George Clooney and Sam Rockwell) so I find that aspect of the book interesting.

    I probably won't check it out, but I like that this is out there to add to the "well-roundedness" of chick lit (if that makes any sense).

  2. It does make sense.I think that's the main reason I picked it up. I enjoyed a different perspective.

    Still, while I enjoyed the two of them, I found a part of me cringing when it became too 'cute'.

    Btw...have you read any of Shannon Hale's YA books?

  3. I haven't. They seem interesting. They all seem pretty fairy tale oriented which is interesting. I did pick up Austenland, one of her adult books, once, but never got around to starting it.

  4. Mormonism...call me close minded but I can't get into characters that are too much into religion.
    I read Austenland but I found it a bit boring, she is a great writer but overall it didn't work for me

  5. Ah...good to know. I was going to check out Austenland.

    I agree when it comes to characters defined by their religion. At time I often find it somewhat off-putting because then it no longer becomes about the story but the religion itself. I will say, although I found parts of this story weird (some things didn't add up for me), I didn't feel they were trying to throw it in my face.

  6. I really enjoyed Austenland, though you have to suspend your disbelief and just roll with it to enjoy it! I have this one in my bookcase and am looking forward to starting it, though the Mormon references might take me aback. Hale has a really fun writing style!

  7. Let me know what you think, Meg. I enjoyed the banter between the two and I agree, the writing was fun and light-hearted. It really was a cute read.