“I wish…I could be around people who care about books all the time”—a dream for every book worm and a great start to Emily Ever After, a novel by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. (pg. 6)
Emily Hinton loves books and wants nothing more than to work with books and people who love them as much as she does. Her goal was to get out of her small California town and make her dream a reality someday. Finally, with the same fearsome drive of any college graduate, she packs up her things and trots off to New York, the book publishing capital of the world. You can’t help but love her determination.
In the beginning, it was easy to relate to Emily’s new-girl-in-the-city routine illustrated by her clumsy, wide-eyed, naïve manner. It practically brings you back to the early school days, being the new kid in class with all the other students staring at you like you were a 3-headed alien from outer space. And, of course, nobody wants to be the funny-looking kid that the others make fun of. You would pretty much do anything to avoid taking on that role, which was precisely the thought of our dear Emily. She wanted to fit in so badly with her fancy colleagues at any risk—even if it meant losing herself.
One thing I liked that was definitely different from many of the main heroines I’ve read about was that Emily was a “good girl,” which probably came from her traditional upbringing as a faithful Christian. The fact that she had little experience with boys made her all the more easy to relate to. I also suspected that Emily might have been born a Virgo because she had the tendency to be overly-critical of herself (who isn’t, right?)
I must say that Emily was too gullible about Bennett. One date with the guy and she was already planning the wedding and thinking up names for their children. Oh, please! Even for a school girl crush, it was still pathetic. And Bennett—he was way too perfect. What’s wrong with him? Every time I read something that made him sound like Prince Charming, I had to wonder what was wrong with him. He was really a frog, right? C’mon, nobody is that perfect.
The problem with Emily was the she believed everything she heard. I mean, if she heard that fish could fly and birds could swim, would she believe that too? Also, she was so bent on being a good Christian that I didn’t see this thing with Bennett—a guy always claiming to be a good Christian—working out. I must also admit that I skipped a lot of the religious stuff as it was all pretty dull.
At one point during the story, I wondered if the authors were British, only because this novel was classified as “Humorous Fiction,” and it didn’t make me laugh once. I thought perhaps it could’ve incorporated that dry, British humor no one ever gets, in which case, I definitely did not get my money’s worth. The only part that gave me a chuckle was when Emily’s roommate accused her of stealing her underwear. Oh, my god, that’s so outrageous when you think about it.
Even though the time correlated to the current season, I still had to skip all the holiday hoopla in the story (Emily having Thanksgiving with Bennett’s family and her flying home for Christmas) mostly because I get too much of it already from the media shoving all this jolly crap down my throat—it kind’ve makes you want to hate it all. I think Bennett said it best—“It’s just a holiday that Hallmark took advantage of. There’s nothing to do but sit around and watch It’s a Wonderful Life again and again and again and eat too much.” You said it, brother. (pg. 195)
The story didn’t really pick up until Jacob entered the scene about half way through the book. He was basically an old school friend that re-enters Emily’s life and refreshes her with a comforting past and youthful humor.
Overall, I felt this story was much too passive—no action whatsoever. I felt like I was being told the story, not shown it. Also, I really didn’t care for any of the characters, not even Emily, as they we were too flat and unrealistic. And, finally, there were some editing issues that got a little annoying. For example, “But,’ I say, pausing”—you can’t say something and pause at the same time.
The title was all wrong. It shouldn’t have been called “Emily Ever After;” it should’ve been “Emily Finally Over…Thank God.”