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Lovehampton    by Sherri Rifkin order for
by Sherri Rifkin
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

After a disastrous breakup, Tori Miller lapsed into a two-year depression. Her friends put up with her funk for as long as possible, but when Tori's hygiene habits start to suffer, they know enough is enough. Tori needs a real social life that doesn't include her two gay employees or her married best friend. And she needs it fast.

The plan is simple, and it includes nothing more than a makeover and a summer share house in the Hamptons. Although the old Tori fears being thrown into a strange environment with people she doesn't know, the new-and-improved Tori (who, due to a misunderstanding that no one cares to resolve is called Miller by her housemates) is enthralled by the promise of a life torn right out of the pages of a glamorous magazine. In no time at all, she's attending spectacular parties, making new friends, and becoming entangled in more romantic situations than she can handle. But is her new life really as fabulous as it seems, or will Tori discover that Miller isn't the woman she wants to be?

Like many other women who quickly fell in love with the chick-lit genre when Bridget Jones and Carrie & Co. made it popular, there are times when I crave a good chick-lit novel more than chocolate. Unfortunately, with chick-lit's popularity came a decline in quality, and increased reader frustration. Well, ladies, I'm thrilled to announce that salvation has arrived at last in this smart, funny, engaging read.

Tori is a strong character, a woman who once knew what she wanted and went after it wholeheartedly, but who lost her way and needs to rediscover who she is. She's in her thirties, no longer dazzled by the promise of a prince to sweep her off her feet, but still hopeful enough to believe in the possibility of true love. While Tori has a brilliant comic voice, it's the emotional poignancy that elevates this novel to a new level.

The secondary characters are also wonderfully crafted. Though some of them initially come off as clichéd stereotypes, it doesn't take long until Rifkin expertly reveals myriad layers to each personality. Discovering more and more about each member of the supporting cast is as addictive and engrossing as following Tori on her misadventures. A page-turning read perfect for taking to the beach, Lovehampton is a guilty pleasure ... much like chocolate: addictive, sweet, and wholly satisfying.

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