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The Funeral Planner    by Lynn Isenberg Amazon.com order for
Funeral Planner
by Lynn Isenberg
Order:  USA  Can
Red Dress Ink, 2005 (2005)
Paperback
*   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Maddy Banks is looking for an initial investor in a start-up company that she hopes will turn her from a starving entrepreneur to a successful businesswoman. While she has worked hard the past several years in California trying to formulate ideas and business plans to start a new venture, she has not been successful. As a smart business-school grad, she knows what she is doing, but has just not made it in the business world. Working for a company and slowly climbing the corporate ladder is not for Maddy. She wants to make it on her own.

After attending two funerals in quick succession, Maddy comes up with a new business idea designing customized funeral experiences. She envisions something more than the typical funeral service, targeting aging (and affluent) baby boomers who want to arrange for their funerals pre-need (before death) and who desire a meaningful, highly personalized service. Maddy's goal is to help these clients create a highly individualized funeral service that will still honor the deceased's memory, but will shift the tone from grief to a celebration of life. Such a service could be viewed on the Internet by those unable to attend, and Maddy's list of strategic partners range from Designer Chefs to Video-DVD production companies. After naming her company 'Lights Out,' Maddy now seeks an initial investor. Her favorite uncle agrees to put up some capital, a former college-fling-girlfriend helps start the business, and a handsome investor agrees to put money in the company. Just when it looks like things are going Maddy's way, Derek - an arch nemesis from business school and a ruthless competitor - looms as a potential threat to her plans.

I found The Funeral Planner's business angle interesting, as well as Maddy's bisexual persuasion, neither of which are frequent topics in this genre. But while Isenberg's second novel is unusual, it was not my cup of tea, as I found it lengthy, and aspects of Maddy's business plan tedious, not to mention implausible. That said, chick lit fans looking for a unique plot with a business twist will probably enjoy it.

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