Select one of the keywords
Elegance    by Kathleen Tessaro order for
by Kathleen Tessaro
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

Read an Excerpt

*   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

At thirty-two years old, Louise Canova is unhappy with her looks, her life and her marriage. Her acting career has dwindled into a job selling box office tickets. After her mother-in-law's friend mistakenly assumes that she is pregnant, it dawns on Louise that she needs a head-to-toe style makeover. Last but not least, her marriage has deteriorated to the point that her husband is more of a roommate than a lover. Then, a visit to a secondhand bookstore leads to the purchase of a forty-year old slim book called 'Elegance'.

A French fashion expert, Madame Dariaux, writes this encyclopedia of style. From A to Z, the book instructs a woman how to dress and carry herself in an elegant manner. Louise's book purchase proves to be the impetus for a whirlwind of change in her life. Louise shucks herself of both her husband and her old look. With the exception of her job, she pretty much changes everything in her life. Looking to the book for wisdom and instruction, Louise forges ahead, tending to not look back or spend much time thinking about radical changes. As a result, Louise finds herself in one bind after another and she is slow on the uptake when it comes to lessons learned and forethought. The pages of the style encyclopedia not only instruct Louise on the future, but also seem to provide clues to her past. Louise fumbles about, buying designer clothes, pondering career changes, her love life and her friendships. The slim book seems to somehow provide powerful lessons for Louise's future and a new friendship becomes a supportive, instructive modern-day 'security blanket' for her. Slowly but surely, Louise realizes that there is more to life than 'being elegant' and that beauty is only skin deep.

While the novel's premise is interesting and quirky, Louise is not an especially sympathetic character, as she is rather boorish and obnoxious at times. Her mishaps and tribulations become grating, rather than humorous, after a while. The story starts off quickly but the pace slows considerably and tends to meander. Though Elegance's attractive, eye-catching cover will pique the interest of bookstore browsers, fans of chick lit may or may not enjoy the story, depending on whether or not they appreciate Tessaro's humor and Louise's character.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews